Monday, March 10, 2008

Savior, Thy Dying Love

Sylvanus Dryden Phelps
Born: May 15, 1816, Suf­field, Con­nec­ti­cut.
Died: No­vem­ber 23, 1895, New Ha­ven, Con­nec­ti­cut.
Phelps at­tend­ed the Con­nec­ti­cut Lit­er­ary In­sti­tute, Brown Un­i­ver­si­ty (grad­u­at­ed 1844), and Yale Di­vin­i­ty School. Af­ter or­din­a­tion, he pas­tored at the First Bap­tist Church in New Ha­ven, Con­nec­ti­cut (1854-1882), and the Jef­fer­son Street Bap­tist Church, Prov­i­dence, Rhode Is­land (1876). Lat­er, he be­came ed­i­tor of The Christ­ian Sec­re­ta­ry. His son was preach­er, au­thor and pro­fess­or Will­iam Ly­ons Phelps.

Music: Robert Lowry (1826-1899)
On Phelps’ 70th birth­day, Low­ry wrote him: It is worth liv­ing 70 years even if no­thing comes of it but one such hymn as:
"Savior! Thy dying love
Thou gavest me;
Nor should I aught withhold,
Dear Lord, from Thee".

Happy is the man who can produce one song which the world will keep on singing after the au­thor shall have passed away. May the tune­ful harp pre­serve its strings for ma­ny a long year yet, and the last note reach us on­ly when it is time for the sing­er to take his place in the hea­ven­ly choir.

Amen, Amen! This is a great hymn of the Faith that our Temple Choir Director, Gordon Leavitt selected for yesterday's worship service.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Go To Dark Gethsemane

Words: James Montgomery
Born: No­vem­ber 4, 1771
Died: Ap­ril 30, 1854
When Montgomery was five years old, his fam­i­ly moved to the Mo­rav­i­an set­tle­ment at Grace­hill, near Bal­ly­mena, Coun­ty An­trim. Two years lat­er, he was sent to the Ful­neck Sem­in­ary in York­shire. He left Ful­neck in 1787 to work in a shop in Mir­field, near Wake­field. Soon tir­ing of that, he se­cured a sim­i­lar po­si­tion at Wath, near Rother­ham, on­ly to find it as un­suit­a­ble as his pre­vi­ous job. A trip to Lon­don, hop­ing to find a pub­lish­er for his youth­ful po­ems, end­ed in fail­ure. In 1792, he glad­ly left Wath for Shef­field to be as­sist­ant to Mr. Gales, auc­tion­eer, book­sel­ler, and print­er of the Shef­field Reg­is­ter. In 1794, Gales left Eng­land to avoid po­lit­ic­al pro­se­cu­tion. Mont­gom­ery took the Shef­field Reg­is­ter in hand, changed its name to the Shef­field Iris, and con­tin­ued to ed­it it for 32 years. Dur­ing the next two years he was im­pris­oned twice, first for re­print­ing a song in com­mem­or­a­tion of the fall of the Bas­tille, then for giv­ing an ac­count of a ri­ot in Shef­field.

"Go to dark Gethsemane, ye that feel the tempter’s power;
Your Redeemer’s conflict see, watch with Him one bitter hour,
Turn not from His griefs away; learn of Jesus Christ to pray.

See Him at the judgment hall, beaten, bound, reviled, arraigned;
O the wormwood and the gall! O the pangs His soul sustained!
Shun not suffering, shame, or loss; learn of Christ to bear the cross.

Calvary’s mournful mountain climb; there, adoring at His feet,
Mark that miracle of time, God’s own sacrifice complete.
“It is finished!” hear Him cry; learn of Jesus Christ to die.

Early hasten to the tomb where they laid His breathless clay;
All is solitude and gloom. Who has taken Him away?
Christ is risen! He meets our eyes; Savior, teach us so to rise".

It was my blessing to sing this great hymn as a choral anthem today.The message in this hymn is so deep and the melody and arrangement portrayed the purpose of the words in a really wonderful and worshipful manner. Thank you Gordon Leavitt Choir Director, Jon Waite Organist and each of my fellow Temple Choir members at First Presbyterian Church.

Music:Thomas Tertius Noble 1867-1953.
Noble stu­died at the Roy­al Coll­ege of Mu­sic with, among others, Charles Stan­ford. No­ble be­came a fel­low in 1905. He served as a church or­gan­ist in Cam­bridge and Col­ches­ter. He moved to Ely Ca­thed­ral in 1892 as or­gan­ist and choir­mas­ter, and in 1898 to York Min­ster, where he found­ed the York Sym­pho­ny Or­ches­tra, di­rect­ed the York Mu­sic­al So­ci­e­ty, con­duct­ed the York Pa­geant, and re­vived the York Mu­sic­al Fes­tiv­al af­ter a lapse of 75 years. He be­came an hon­or­ary fel­low of the Roy­al Coll­ege of Or­gan­ists in 1905. In 1913, he moved to New York Ci­ty, where he was or­gan­ist at St. Thom­as’ Epis­co­pal Church, and es­tab­lished its choir school and a boys’ choir. In ad­di­tion to com­pos­ing, he wrote about mu­sic ed­u­ca­tion, and helped ed­it the 1916 Pro­test­ant Epis­co­pal hym­nal, and served on the mu­sic com­mit­tee that pre­pared its 1940 suc­ces­sor. He wrote a wide range of mu­sic, but on­ly his serv­ices, an­thems and hymn tunes are still per­formed reg­u­lar­ly.

Above material from

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Dear Lord And Father Of Mankind

Words: John G. Whit­ti­er, in the At­lan­tic Month­ly, Ap­ril 1872.
The words are from a long nar­ra­tive poem, “The Brew­ing of So­ma.” It de­scribes Ve­dic priests go­ing in­to the for­est and drink­ing them­selves into a stu­por with a con­coct­ion called “soma.” They try to have a re­li­gious ex­per­i­ence and con­tact the spir­it world. It is af­ter set­ting that scene that Whit­tier draws his les­son: “Dear Lord, and Fa­ther of man­kind, for­give our fool­ish ways…” This hymn is as rel­e­vant to­day as when it was writ­ten. In a mod­ern con­text, it speaks to the drug cul­ture, and those look­ing for an “ex­per­i­ence” to prove the re­al­i­ty of God. The hymn was sung in the 2007 mo­vie Atone­ment, which won an Acad­e­my Award for best score.
Music: Rest (Mak­er), Fred­er­ick C. Mak­er, 1887

This time is a very difficult time for me, but wonderful thoughts keep coming to my mind and this song is one such blessing. In the years 1966-68 I was an Army Officer stationed in El Paso, TX and for most of those years I served as the choir director of the Protestant Chapel at WM Beaumont Gen Hospital where I was assigned. It was there that I first heard this hymn and it's been a great favorite for the past 40+ years. My former wife and mother of my three children played the piano and sang well and she and my daughter Beth and myself have sung this at church at least one occassion I recall.

"Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
Forgive our foolish ways;
Reclothe us in our rightful mind,
In purer lives Thy service find,
In deeper reverence, praise."