Posted by: rcottrill | November 24, 2010

Today in 1860 – George Croly Died

George Croly was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1780. When he was about 30 years of age he moved to London, and took up a ministry there that lasted for the next 50 years. He reopened St. Stephen’s Church in a poor section of the city–a church that had been closed for a century. He proved himself to be a strong fundamentalist preacher, opposing liberalism of any kind. (In spite of the bad press the word fundamentalist has received in recent years, in Christianity, the word simply signifies one who adheres to the fundamental  or foundational doctrines of the Bible.)

George Croly also wrote copiously, books on history and biography, as well as on biblical subjects. In addition, he wrote a number of hymns, published in 1854 in a volume entitled Psalms and Hymns for Public Worship. Unfortunately, most copies of this book were destroyed in a fire. It is now an extremely rare volume. But one passionate hymn about the Holy Spirit has survived and is still much used, Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart. The text he superscribed as reflective of his song’s intent is: “If we live in the Spirit [i.e. through the new birth], let us also walk in the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25).

Some might be concerned that Croly’s choice of phrasing seems to take us back at times into a pre-Pentecost environment. After all, the Spirit of God not only comes upon but permanently indwells every Christian at conversion (Rom. 8:9, 15). His presence is God’s seal upon us that we belong to Him (Eph. 1:13-14). But if we take Croly to be pleading simply for the active ministry of the Holy Spirit in his life, we can concur.

The baptizing work of the Spirit of God unites us to Christ and makes us a part of His spiritual body, the church (I Cor. 12:12-13; Gal. 3:26-28). So to avoid a confusion of the ministries of the Spirit, some modern editors have changed the line in the last stanza where the author prays for “The baptism of the heaven-descended Dove” to “The kindling of the heaven-descended Dove.” But apart from these things, there are so many choice insights in the hymn it is very much worthy of our meditation.

Spirit of God, descend upon my heart;
Wean it from earth; through all its pulses move;
Stoop to my weakness, mighty as Thou art;
And make me love Thee as I ought to love.

I ask no dream, no prophet ecstasies,
No sudden rending of the veil of clay,
No angel visitant, no opening skies;
But take the dimness of my soul away.

Teach me to feel that Thou art always nigh;
Teach me the struggles of the soul to bear.
To check the rising doubt, the rebel sigh,
Teach me the patience of unanswered prayer.

(2) More from Avis Christiansen
Sometimes using pen names such as Christ­ian B. An­son, Avis Bur­ges­son (a variation of her maiden hame), and Con­stance B. Ried, Avis B. Christiansen (1895-1985) produced many fine gospel songs. (To learn more about her and her songs, see Today in 1895.) In 1918, Mrs. Christiansen published It Is Glory Just to Walk with Him. Haldor Lillenas provided the sprightly tune.

It is glory just to walk with Him
Whose blood has ransomed me;
It is rapture for my soul each day.
It is joy divine to feel Him near
Where’er my path may be.
Bless the Lord, it’s glory all the way!

It is glory just to walk with Him,
It is glory just to walk with Him,
He will guide my steps aright
Through the vale and o’er the height,
It is glory just to walk with Him.

’Twill be glory when I walk with Him
On heaven’s golden shore,
Never from His side again to stray.
’Twill be glory, wondrous glory
With the Saviou evermore,
Everlasting glory all the way!


Responses

  1. Thanks for the comment on my blog about this hymn. Looks like we share a similar passion for hymns, their history, and their theology.

    • Yes, and I hope we’re not a dying breed! Can’t lose sight of this wonderful heritage. God bless.

  2. […] Wordwise Hymns The Cyber […]


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