Commemorated on 24 August
A hymn to sing along with…
(part of a set of hymns about the Twelve Apostles)
There are various stories about how Bartholomew was martyred, one of them being that he was skinned alive. For this reason he is is the patron saint of tanners, leatherworkers, bookbinders, and glove makers (among others).
Not a great deal is recorded about Bartholomew in the Bible. He is listed as one of the Twelve in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke (the Gospel of John doesn’t include such a list). He is among the list of eleven named at the beginning of Acts of the Apostles before Matthias was chosen to join them. He may be the same person as Nathaniel named in the Gospel of John as being introduced to Jesus by Philip.
Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.John 1.45-51
Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.
Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these. And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.
However, the lack of hard facts did not deter Revd John Ellerton (1826-93) from publishing this hymn about him in 1871 while he was the Vicar of Crewe Green. Ellerton also wrote The day thou gavest.
The words are here coupled with the tune Rustington by Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry (1848-1918), who contracted the “Spanish” flu in the earlier global pandemic and died in the autumn of 1918.
King of saints, to whom the number
Of thy starry host is known,
Many a name, by man forgotten,
Lives forever round Thy throne;
Lights, which earth-born mists have darkened,
There are shining full and clear,
Princes in the court of heaven,
Nameless, unremembered here.
In the roll of Thine apostles
One there stands, Bartholomew,
He for whom today we offer,
Year by year, our praises due;
How he toiled for Thee and suffered
None on earth can now record;
All his saintly life is hidden,
In the knowledge of his Lord.
Was it he, beneath the fig tree
Seen of Thee, and guileless found;
He who saw the good he longed for
Rise from Nazareth’s barren ground;
He who met his risen Master
On the shore of Galilee;
He to whom the word was spoken,
“Greater things thou yet shall see”?
None can tell us; all is written
In the Lamb’s great book of life,
All the faith, and prayer, and patience,
All the toiling, and the strife;
There are told thy hidden treasures;
Number us, O Lord, with them,
When thou makest up the jewels
Of thy living diadem.