Posted by: rcottrill | December 31, 2010

Today in 1823 – William Cushing Born

William Orcutt Cushing was a pastor in the United States (see also here). Ill health after the death of his wife forced him to resign from public ministry. But he went on to write over 300 hymns during the latter part of his life. Among them are:

Follow On
Hiding in Thee
Ring the Bells of Heaven
There’ll Be No Dark Valley
Under His Wings
When He Cometh

Hiding in Thee was written at request from Ira Sankey that Cushing provide something that would help him in his evangelistic work. The author said of this hymn, “It is the outgrowth of many tears, many heart conflicts and soul yearnings, of which the world can know nothing.”

O safe to the Rock that is higher than I,
My soul in its conflicts and sorrows would fly;
So sinful, so weary, Thine, Thine, would I be;
Thou blest “Rock of Ages,” I’m hiding in Thee.

Hiding in Thee, hiding in Thee,
Thou blest “Rock of Ages,”
I’m hiding in Thee.

How oft in the conflict, when pressed by the foe,
I have fled to my refuge and breathed out my woe;
How often, when trials like sea billows roll,
Have I hidden in Thee, O Thou Rock of my soul.

(2) Today in 1837 – John Sweney Born
John Robson Sweney began his music career early. While still in his youth he began teaching music in the public schools and leading Sunday School programs. He took violin and piano lessons, and became a skilled choral conductor as well. For many years he was professor of music at the Pennsylvania Military Academy. He earned a Doctor of Music degree in 1886.

Mr Sweney composed the music for over a thousand gospel songs. (For more about the man and his music, see the third item under Today in 1817.) Sweney was a frequent collaborator with Fanny Crosby on songs such as: Tell Me the Story of Jesus, Take the World But Give Me Jesus, My Saviour First of All, and Unsearchable Riches, a lesser known song of Fanny’s.

Oh, the unsearchable riches of Christ,
Wealth that can never be told!
Riches exhaustless of mercy and grace,
Precious, more precious than gold!

Precious, more precious,
Wealth that can never be told!
Oh, the unsearchable riches of Christ!
Precious, more precious than gold.

(3) Today in 1951 – Elton Roth Died
Elton Menno Roth served with traveling evangelistic groups, and was a music teacher at several Bible colleges. He wrote over a hundred hymns and a number of anthems. His Ecclesia Choir toured the United States in 1931. Only one of his songs remains in common use, In My Heart There Rings a Melody, for which he wrote both words and music.

The song was written in Texas, in the summer of 1923, during an evangelistic crusade in which Elton Roth was involved. He went for a walk one afternoon but, becoming oppressed by the suffocating heat, he looked for a place of shade and shelter. Spotting a church, he tried the door and found it open. No one was around, and he found the coolness of the sanctuary refreshing. As he walked up and down the aisle, a song of praise rose from within him. It seemed heaven sent. He says, “I hurried into the pastor’s study to find some paper. I drew a staff and sketched the melody, remaining there for an hour or more to finish the song, both words and music.”

That evening the composer had a group of over 200 boys and girls sing it for the first time in an open air meeting. After the children had sung, those gathered around joined enthusiastically in the new hymn. Roth says, “I was thrilled, as it seemed my whole being was transformed into a song.”

I have a song that Jesus gave me,
It was sent from heav’n above;
There never was a sweeter melody,
‘Tis the melody of love.

In my heart there rings a melody,
There rings a melody with heaven’s harmony;
In my heart there rings a melody;
There rings a melody of love.

I love the Christ who died on Calv’ry,
For He washed my sins away;
He put within my heart a melody,
And I know it’s there to stay.


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