Posted by: rcottrill | December 16, 2010

Today in 1770 – Ludwig van Beethoven Born

Beethoven stands atop the ranks of great composers, perhaps rivaled only by Johann Sebastian Bach. He was born in Bonn, Germany. A true prodigy, he began working on music at the age of 4, played concerts at the age of 8, and began serious composition at the age of 10. When he was 12, he conducted an opera orchestra. But in spite of this early beginning, his greatest work often took years of struggle to produce.

Beethovan’s religious views are difficult to catagorize. He was baptized and raised a Catholic, but his principle teacher and mentor was a Protestant. Although his beliefs were untraditional and even eccentric, there is no doubt of his devotion to God. He wrote:

Almighty God, You look down into my innermost soul, You see into my heart and You know that it is filled with love for humanity and a desire to do good.

Calmly will I submit myself to all inconsistency and will place all my confidence in Your eternal goodness, O God! My soul shall rejoice in Thee, immutable Being. Be my rock, my light, forever my trust.

Beethoven did not write hymn tunes specifically, but many themes from his compositions have been used as such. The most famous of these comes from his magnificent 9th Symphony, and the Hymn to Joy in the last movement. Henry van Dyke suggested it as the tune for a hymn he wrote in 1907 called Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee.

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, opening to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness; drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day!

(2) Today in 1826 – John Ellerton Born
JGraphic Sunsetohn Ellerton was a preacher, teacher and author, as well as being a fine hymn writer. He wrote or translated 86 hymns, and as an editor of hymn books and a consultant in the editorial process, he held a prominent place in church music for decades. Interestingly, he refused to copyright his songs, saying that if they were “counted worthy to contribute to Christ’s praise in the congregation, one ought to feel very thankful and humble.” (For more about Ellerton and his hymns, see Today in 1893.)

His wonderful hymn The Day Thou Gavest Lord Is Ended may look from the title as though it was intended as a closing hymn, but it also has a world missions theme. I do not usually give the full text of hymns in these blogs, more often simply providing sample stanzas. However, in this case, we need them all. As Christians we need to sense something of the spreading grandeur of the church of Jesus Christ.

The day Thou gavest, Lord, is ended,
The darkness falls at Thy behest;
To Thee our morning hymns ascended,
Thy praise shall sanctify our rest.

We thank Thee that Thy church, unsleeping,
While earth rolls onward into light,
Through all the world her watch is keeping,
And rests not now by day or night.

As o’er each continent and island
The dawn leads on another day,
The voice of prayer is never silent,
Nor dies the strain of praise away.

The sun that bids us rest is waking
Our brethren ’neath the western sky,
And hour by hour fresh lips are making
Thy wondrous doings heard on high.

So be it, Lord; Thy throne shall never,
Like earth’s proud empires, pass away:
Thy kingdom stands, and grows forever,
Till all Thy creatures own Thy sway.


Responses

  1. I have enjoyed your post today, brother Robert! Would it be easy for you to directly place a link to the hymn on Cyberhymnal so that your visitors can directly click on the link in your post to get to the Cyberhymnal to hear the tune? Just a thought…

    Have a blessed day!

    • Thanks Wendy. (I answered your e-mail before I got to this comment. I see that you are familiar with the blog too.) As to linking to the Cyber Hymnal each time… Well, I’ve thought about it. Starting in the new year, I’ll be going through the blogs another time, adding more data, and some links as well. Sometimes it may be a link to a performance of the song that I think is worth hearing. Other times, there will be internal links to other blogs on the site where I discuss the same author or song. Or perhaps there will be more links to the Cyber Hymnal.

      I’m not sure I’ll link every time to the latter. I do promote the site here and there, as well as listing it in my sidebar. I’ve had a hand in assisting with the development of that site over the last 13 years, so do have special interest in it. However, a link to it every time may distract readers from my own purpose. Not sure about that, but will keep your idea in mind.

  2. […] the hymns of the church, he gave us The Day Thou Gavest, Lord, Is Ended (see the second item under Today in 1770), and also added this fourth and strongly Trinitarian stanza to Dorothy Gurney’s O Perfect […]

  3. […] Wordwise Hymns (and see Beethoven) The Cyber […]

  4. […] Music: St. Clement, by Clement Cotterill Scholefield (b. June 22, 1839; d. Sept. 10, 1904) Links: Wordwise Hymns The Cyber […]

  5. […] CH-2, with its reference to angelic choirs praising God “in unceasing chorus”, is reminiscent of the seraphim crying, “Holy, holy, holy!” before the throne of God (Isa. 6:1-3). The cherubim do the same (Rev. 4:8; cf. Ezek. 1:5; 10:20). CH-3 reminds us that, in our praise of God, we are part of a long procession that began, no doubt, in Eden, and includes prophets and apostles. It even involves white-robed martyrs, because we must not forget the “whole family [of God] in heaven and earth” (Eph. 3:15). The lines: “And from morn to set of sun, / Through the church the song goes on,” call to mind John Ellerton’s majestic and beautiful hymn, The Day Thou Gavest, Lord, Is Ended. […]


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