In a way, the days flow after one another in a regular sequence, and our adherence to a “calendar” is a social convention for convenience sake. January 1st is just another day, like December 31st. But we have accepted the idea that a new year begins each January, and it has become an important time to look back, and look ahead.
Frances Ridley Havergal, the great English hymn writer, used to send New Year’s cards, rather than Christmas cards. And she wrote her own verses to include in them. (Wouldn’t you like to have received one of them?) A couple of these poems have become fine New Year’s hymns. I encourage you to take a look, and perhaps use one or both in a church service this year. Both are excellent. One of these, written in 1873, is Standing at the Portal (see Today in 1874).
The other, Another Year Is Dawning, is from a card Miss Havergal sent in 1874.
Another year is dawning, dear Father, let it be
In working or in waiting, another year with Thee.
Another year of progress, another year of praise,
Another year of proving Thy presence all the days.
Another year of mercies, of faithfulness and grace,
Another year of gladness in the shining of Thy face;
Another year of leaning upon Thy loving breast;
Another year of trusting, of quiet, happy rest.
Another year of service, of witness for Thy love,
Another year of training for holier work above.
Another year is dawning, dear Father, let it be
On earth, or else in heaven, another year for Thee.
It is a bit frustrating, when dealing with gifted writers who have produced many hymns, to try to give an adequate sampling of their work in this kind of blog–abbreviated as it tends to be. (For more about this author and her hymns, see the second item under Today in 1815.) Before we leave Miss Havergal, let me add two more songs of hers that have merit: O Saviour, Precious Saviour, and I Am Trusting Thee, Lord Jesus.
O Saviour, precious Saviour,
Whom yet unseen we love!
O name of might and favour,
All other names above!
We worship Thee, we bless Thee,
To Thee, O Christ, we sing;
We praise Thee, and confess Thee
Our holy Lord and King.
Then, we have I Am Trusting Thee, Lord Jesus, a simple declaration of faith that is said to have been Frances Havergal’s favourite of all the hymns she wrote.
I am trusting Thee, Lord, Jesus,
Trusting only Thee;
Trusting Thee for full salvation,
Great and free.
I am trusting Thee to guide me;
Thou alone shalt lead;
Every day and hour supplying
All my need.
I am trusting Thee for power,
Thine can never fail;
Words which Thou Thyself shalt give me
(2) Today in 1891 – Henry Barraclough Born
Henry Barraclough was born in England. For a time he served as the secretary of a British member of Parliament. Then he joined the team of evangelist J. Wilbur Chapman, as their accompanist.
In the summer of 1915, Chapman preached a sermon at a Christian camp in North Carolina. His text was Psalm 45:8, and he showed how the words provide a prophetic picture of Christ. The verse says, “All Your garments are scented with myrrh and aloes and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, by which they have made You glad.”
As an aside: There is a historical oddity connected with that verse. In 1879, a man named James Norris Gamble was sitting in church when the passage was read. He thought “ivory” would be a perfect name for a new soap his father, the co-founder of Proctor and Gamble, was about to market. That is how Ivory Soap got its name!
More importantly, the text is a poetic description of a Hebrew king in his resplendence, coming from his palace for his wedding. As he proceeds on his way, the fragrance of his garments is shed abroad. Myrrh and cassia were two of the principle ingredients used for the anointing oil referred to in vs. 7 (cf. Exod. 30:22-25). It was used in inaugurating the priests and kings of Israel. Myrrh and aloes are also mentioned in the marriage preparations of King Solomon (S.S. 4:14).
The spices which perfumed the king’s robes have a connection to the Lord Jesus too. Myrrh was one of the gifts of the wise men brought to the baby Jesus (Matt. 2:11). And myrrh and aloes were used to embalm the body of Christ at His burial (Jn. 19:39). Ps. 45:8 gives us a prophetic picture of the Lord Jesus Christ, coming for His spiritual bride, the church.
Following Chapman’s sermon, his pianist, Henry Barraclough, created a hymn based on the text. It is the only song we have from him.
My Lord has garments so wondrous fine,
And myrrh their texture fills;
Its fragrance reached to this heart of mine
With joy my being thrills.
Out of the ivory palaces,
Into a world of woe,
Only His great eternal love
Made my Saviour go.
His life had also its sorrows sore,
For aloes had a part;
And when I think of the cross He bore,
My eyes with teardrops start.
In garments glorious He will come,
To open wide the door;
And I shall enter my heav’nly home,
To dwell forevermore.