Monday, March 10, 2008
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
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 cyberhymnal.org
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
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."