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St Oswald's

The parish church of Bollington

Bollington Road, Bollington Cross, SK10 5EG
07895 363 038



Sing-Along Hymns

Revd Samuel Crossman (1623-1683)
Dorothy Greenwell (1821-1882)

A couple of hymns written centuries apart, but both reflecting on "My Saviour".

Revd Samuel Crossman had been a Puritan minister, expelled from the Church of England due to his opposition to the Act of Uniformity in 1662, but he renounced his Puritan affiliations shortly afterwards. He wrote his poem in 1664 and was ordained in 1665, becoming a royal chaplain. He was appointed Dean of Bristol Cathedral in 1683, but died a few weeks later on 4 February of that year*. He was buried in the south aisle of the Cathedral.

(*at that time, the new year began on 25 March, so the year of his death would have been 1684 in the New Style calendar.)

- - -

Dorothy Greenwell was a poet born at Lanchester, County Durham. She was generally known as Dora to avoid confusion with her mother. Her hymn is based on her best-known poem, Redemption, published in 1873 in a collection called Songs of Salvation.


Dora Greenwell

My song is love unknown

The tune to Crossman's hymn, Love Unknown was written by John Nicholson Ireland (1879-1962), who was born at Bowdon. He was organist at Saint Luke’s Chelsea from 1904 to 1926. The tune was written for The Public School Hymnbook of 1919 and is credited with rescuing the hymn from obscurity. It is claimed that the tune was written over lunch on the back of a menu, the meal being shared with Geoffrey Shaw, one of the editors of the hymn book.

My song is love unknown,
my Saviour’s love to me;
love to the loveless shown,
that they might lovely be.
O who am I, that for my sake
my Lord should take frail flesh and die?

He came from His blest throne
salvation to bestow;
but men made strange, and none
the longed-for Christ would know:
but O! my Friend, my Friend indeed,
who at my need His life did spend.

Sometimes they strew His way,
and His sweet praises sing;
resounding all the day
hosannas to their King:
then “Crucify!” is all their breath,
and for His death they thirst and cry.

Why, what hath my Lord done?
What makes this rage and spite?
He made the lame to run,
he gave the blind their sight.
Sweet injuries! Yet they at these
themselves displease, and ’gainst Him rise.

They rise and needs will have
my dear Lord made away;
a murderer they save,
the Prince of life they slay.
Yet cheerful He to suffering goes,
that He His foes from thence might free.

In life no house, no home,
my Lord on earth might have;
in death no friendly tomb,
but what a stranger gave.
What may I say? Heav’n was his home;
but mine the tomb wherein he lay.

Here might I stay and sing,
no story so divine;
never was love, dear King,
never was grief like Thine.
This is my Friend, in whose sweet praise
I all my days could gladly spend.

Love Unknown

I am not skilled to understand

Greenwell's hymn is set to the tune Jacob’s Well by Barry Rose, who also wrote a tune for New every morning is the love.

(The third line of the first verse of the poem read: "I only know that at His right hand" but the additional syllable is awkward to sing.)

The original poem had a lot more stanzas; the missing ones are shown below.

[1] I am not skilled to understand
what God has willed, what God has planned;
I only know at His right hand
stands One who is my Saviour!

[2] I take God at his word and deed:
“Christ died to save me,” this I read;
and in my heart I find a need
of Him to be my Saviour!

[4] That He should leave his place on high
and come for sinful man to die,
you count it strange? So do not I,
since I have known my Saviour!

[9] And oh, that He fulfilled may see
the travail of His soul in me,
and with His work contented be,
as I with my dear Saviour!

[10] Yea, living, dying, let me bring
my strength, my solace from this spring;
that He who lives to be my King
once died to be my Saviour!

Jacob’s Well

[3] And was there, then, no other way
for God to take? – I cannot say;
I only bless Him day by day
who saved me through my Saviour

[5] In Heaven He found no grief, nor blame
to bear away, no bitter shame
of death and sin, and so He came
to earth to be its Saviour.

[6] And had there been in all this wide
wide world no other soul beside
but only mine, then He had died
that He might be its Saviour;

[7] One wounded spirit, sore opprest,
one wounded soul that found no rest
until it found it on the breast
of Him that was its Saviour;-

[8] Then had He left his Father’s throne,
the joy untold, the love unknown,
and for that soul had given His own,
that He might be its Saviour.

For each hymn we have provided a set of verses together with an electronically generated sound-track. The sound track does not provide any words - just the tune.

The selection of hymns to be included was subject to certain limitations, notably the restrictions of copyright. This meant that many modern hymns were excluded, and the exclusion even applied to some updated versions of traditional hymns. Some publishers have made a few minor changes to make hymns more "inclusive" and have then claimed copyright over the revised text. So in most cases the ORIGINAL texts have been used, even though these may not be the versions that appear in modern hymnals.

In deciding what tunes to be used, this has largely been the Webmaster's personal choice. It is a mixture of familiar tunes and tunes that are not well-known, but deserve to be better known. The webmaster has included some personal favourites (and excluded some pet hates!). The soundtracks provided go with the words provided - if there are four verses, the tune is repeated four times. Where possible tunes have been provided with descants or alternative arrangements.

Wherever possible, there is an explanation of who wrote the words or tunes, the circumstances under which they were written, when (and sometimes why). Many hymns include references to verses appearing in the King James Version of the Bible; more modern translations were not then available! In some cases we have tried to explain these scriptural references or other instances where words have changed their meaning over time.

This selection of "Sing-along Songs of Praise" was originally a series of blog posts written during the COVID Lockdowns of 2020. It was intended to allow people to sing hymns in the safety and privacy of their own homes at a time when hymn-singing in church was not allowed (even if the church building was open!).

When hymns are sung as part of a church service, it is normally the case that the hymn books are set aside at the end of the hymn and the next part of the service continues. There is no time to sit and reflect on the meaning or the beauty of words and/or music. This collection allows you to take your time, to read, listen sing along, reflect, and to repeat a hymn again if you wish.



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Last modified: 25 September 2021