Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee

Florence Nightingale died on 13 August 1910. She is commemorated in the Church of England Calendar on 13 August.

Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) was the founder of modern nursing. It is relevant that she was a pioneer in the use of statistics. She came to prominence while serving as a manager and trainer of nurses during the Crimean War, in which she organised care for wounded soldiers. She gave nursing a favourable reputation and became an icon of Victorian culture, especially in the persona of “The Lady with the Lamp” making rounds of wounded soldiers at night.

With the arrival of COVID-19, it is appropriate to celebrate all that nurses do for us. There are several medically qualified people in our congregation: we are blessed by their selfless attitudes of care.

This is the best-known hymn by Frances Ridley Havergal (1836-1879), who was the daughter of the Rector of St Nicholas, Worcester. She wrote many hymns, but most have fallen out of fashion. She also wrote I am trusting Thee, Lord Jesus, which is included in this collection.

Take my life, and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee;
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.

Take my hands, and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love:
Take my feet, and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee.

Take my voice, and let me sing
Always, only for my King.
Take my lips, and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee.

Take my silver and my gold,
Not a mite would I withhold;
Take my intellect, and use
Every power as Thou shalt choose.

Take my heart, it is Thine own,
It shall be Thy royal throne:
Take my will and make it Thine,
It shall be no longer mine.

Take my love; my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure-store;
Take myself, and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.

O what their joy and their glory must be

John Mason Neale is commemorated on 7 August (the day after he died in 1866), so one of the hymns he translated has been chosen for todays post.

The original Latin hymn O quanta qualia sunt illa sabbata was written by Peter Abelard (1079-1142). He was born in Brittany. His father had been a military man, but Abelard became a philosopher, theologian and logician. In about 1115 he became the master of the cathedral school of Notre Dame in Paris (although the present cathedral had not yet been constructed). While there he famously had an affair with Héloïse, and the couple secretly married. However, things did not turn out well (you can read the gory details on Wikipedia), and he became a monk. He seems to have had a talent for upsetting people.

Revd John Mason Neale (1818-66) was born in London, the son of a clergyman and a descendant on his mother’s side of Revd John Mason, author of How shall I sing that Majesty. Neale was ordained in 1842 and was briefly incumbent of Crawley, but had to resign on account of chronic lung disease. He was Warden of Sackville House (an alms house at East Grinsted) from 1846 until his death at the age of 48. He died on 6 August 1866 – the feast of The Transfiguration of Our Lord, so he is commemorated on the following day.

He translated many hymns from Latin and Greek. The 1875 edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern included 58 of them and there were even more in the English Hymnal of 1906. He also wrote hymns of his own. In many cases (including this one), the English translations preserved the metre of the original Latin, so that the translated hymns could still be sung to the original plainsong melodies, for example:

Angelaris fundamentum
Conditor alme siderum
Jerusalem luminosa
O Lux beata Trinitas
Urbs Sion aurea
Urbs beata Jerusalem
Veni, Redemptor gentium
Veni, Sancte Spiritus

Christ is made the sure foundation
Creator of the stars of night
Light’s abode, celestial Salem
O trinity of blessed light
Jerusalem the golden
Blessed City, heavenly Salem
Come thou Redeemer of the earth
Come, thou Holy Spirit, come

He also wrote:
Around the throne of God a band
Christian, dost thou see them
Good King Wenceslas
O Happy band of pilgrims

Four of the seven verses (the missing starred verses are shown below):

1 O WHAT their joy and their glory must be,
Those endless sabbaths the blesséd ones see!
Crown for the valiant; to weary ones rest;
God shall be all, and in all ever blest.

3 Truly Jerusalem name we that shore,
‘Visions of peace,’ that brings joy evermore!
Wish and fufilment can severed be ne’er,
or the thing prayed for come short of the prayer.

4 We, where no trouble distraction can bring,
Safely the anthems of Sion shall sing;
While for thy grace, Lord, their voices of praise
Thy blesséd people shall evermore raise.

7 Low before him with our praises we fall,
Of whom, and in whom, and through whom are all;
Of whom, the Father; and through whom, the Son;
In whom, the Spirit, with these ever One.

2 *What are the Monarch, his court, and his throne?
What are the peace and the joy that they own?
Tell us, ye blest ones, that in it have share,
If what ye feel ye can fully declare.

5 *There dawns no sabbath, no sabbath is o’er,
Those sabbath-keepers have one and no more;
One and unending is that triumph-song
Which to the angels and us shall belong.

6 *Now in the meanwhile, with hearts raised on high,
We for that country must yearn and must sigh,
Seeking Jerusalem, dear native land,
Through our long exile on Babylon’s strand.

The Transfiguration of Our Lord

Celebrated on 6 August.

After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”

While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.

Raphael painted The Transfiguration about 1520

This ancient hymn Coelestia fornam gloriae from the Cluniac Breviary of 1686 was translated into English by the Welshman Revd Richard E Roberts (1874-1945), who emigrated to North America in 1916. Originally a Calvanistic Methodist, he joined the United Church of Canada when it was formed in 1925 (an amalgamation of Methodists, Presbyterians and Congregationalists) and was Moderator of the UCC 1934-36.

An image of that heavenly light,
The goal the Church keeps ay in sight,
Christ on the holy mount displays
Where He outshines the sun’s bright rays.

Let every age proclaimer be
How, on this day, the chosen three
With Moses and Elias heard
The Lord speak many a gracious word.

As witnesses to grace are nigh
Those twain, the Law and Prophecy;
And to the Son, from out the cloud,
The Father’s record thunders loud.

With garments whiter than the snows,
And shining face, Lord Jesus shows
What glory for those saints shall be
Who joy in God with piety.

The vision and the mystery
Make faithful hearts beat quick and high,
So on this solemn day of days
The cry goes up of prayer and praise.

O God the Father, God the Son,
And Holy Spirit, Three in One,
Vouchsafe to bring us, by thy grace,
To see thy glory face to face.

Another song from the 1930s

“…though she’s been silent so long…”

This seems to be an appropriate sentiment during lockdown.

Another from my Dad’s collection, the song was published in 1932.

Words by Gus Kahn (1886-1941), one of the most successful and prolific lyricists of the period; he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970. Music by Harry Woods (1896-1970). He started writing songs after being drafted into the US Army in WW1. After the war he made song-writing his career. He wrote both words and music for When the red, red robin…, Side by Side and many other songs.

(There’s an eight bar orchestral intro)

Verse 1:
Memories are treasures locked in my heart I mean to keep evermore.
Of all my treasures one stands apart, saved from the dear days of yore.

I hear a voice so sweet and low, the voice in the old village choir.
It speaks to me of long ago – the voice in the old village choir.
In dreams I drift through the twilight haze
home to the scenes of my childhood days,
to hear again when lights are low, the voice in the old village choir

Verse 2:
I hear her singing long, long ago, I still remember her song.
I hear her singing when lights are low, though she’s been silent so long

Refrain x 2

The hymn that I sang as a boy

A popular song about hymn-singing…

…written about 1930 by Sonny Miller, with music by John Burnaby. It was recorded by Graham Payn as a boy soprano about 1931 (his voice broke in 1932) and you can find recordings on YouTube. Graham Payn went on to become Noel Coward’s partner. He played Coward’s obsequious assistant in the film The Italian Job. He died 4 November 2005 at the age of 87.

(eight bar orchestral intro) – time to get a tissue ready!

Verse 1:
I heard an organ playing in the church upon the hill
With head bowed down I listened, for a moment my heart stood still…

Through that open church window I heard a refrain
‘Twas the hymn that I sang as a boy.
And that melody took me to childhood again,
With the hymn that I sang as a boy.
Mother’s heart would rejoice at the sound of my voice
As I watched her face glowing with joy
I can see her again when I hear that refrain,
Just the hymn that I sang as a boy.

Verse 2:
The golden sun was setting as I shed a silent tear
In memory I lingered, with the one that I held so dear…

Refrain x 2

The song appeared in Feldman’s 39th Song and Dance Album, which my Dad seems to have purchased on 10 September 1934. It cost one shilling and included 2o other songs including Home on the Range and Chinese Laundry Blues.