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"IF YOU CANNOT ON THE OCEAN.”
This popular Christian ballad, entitled “Your Mission," was written one stormy day in the winter of 1861-2 by Miss Ellen M. Huntington (Mrs. Isaac Gates), and made her reputation as one of the few didactic poets whose exquisite art wins a hearing for them everywhere. In a moment of revery, while looking through the window at the falling snow, the words came to her:
If you cannot on the ocean
Sail among the swiftest feet. She turned away and wrote the lines on her slate, following with verse after verse till she finished the whole poem. “It wrote itself," she sars in her own account of it.
Reading afterwards what she had written, she was surprised at her work. The poem had a meaning and a "mission." So strong was the impression that the devout girl fell on her knees and conskvrated it to a divine purpose. Free copies of it went to the Cooperstown, N. Y., local paper, and to the New York Examiner, and appeared in both. From that time the history and career of “Your Mission "presents a marked illustration of “catenal influence," or transmitted suggestion.
In the later days of the Civil War Philip Phillips, who had a wonderfully sweet tenor voice, was invited to sing at a great meeting of the United States Christian Commission in the Senate Chamber at Washington, February, 1865, President Lincoln and Secretary Seward (then president of the commission) were there, and the hall was crowded with leading statesmen, army generals, and friends of the Union. The song selected by Mr. Phillips was Mrs. Gates' “Your Mission":
If you cannot on the ocean
Sail among the swiftest fleet,
Laughing at the storms you meet,
Anchored yet within the bay;
As they launch their boats away. The hushed audience listened spell-bound as the sweet singer went on, their interest growing to feverish eagerness until the climax was reached in the fifth stanza:
If you cannot in the conflict
Prove yourself a soldier true,
There's no work for you to do,
You can go with careful tread;
You can cover up the dead. In the storm of enthusiasm that followed, President Lincoln handed a hastily scribbled line on a bit of paper to Chairman Seward,
“Near the close let us have ‘Your Mission' repeated.”
Mr. Phillips' great success on this occasion brought him so many calls for his services that he gave up everything and devoted himself to his tuneful art. “Your Mission” so gladly welcomed at Washington made him the first gospel songster, chanting round the world the divine message of the hymns. It was the singing by Philip Phillips that first impressed Ira D. Sankey with the amazing power of evangelical solo song, and helped him years later to resign his lucrative business as a revenue officer and consecrate his own rare vocal gift to the Christian ministry of sacred music. Heaven alone can show the birth-records of souls won to God all along the journeys of the “Singing Pilgrims,” and the rich succession of Mr. Sankey's melodies, that can be traced back by a chain of causes to the poem that "wrote itself” and became a hymn. And the chain may not yet be complete. In the words of that providential poem
Though they may forget the singer
They will not forget the song.
Mrs. Ellen M. H. Gates, whose reputation as an author was made by this beautiful and always timely poem, was born in Torrington, Ct., and is the youngest sister of the late Collis P. Huntington. Her hymns-included in this volume and in other publications--are much admired and loved, both for their sweetness and elevated religious feeling, and for their poetic quality. Among her published books of verse are “Night,” “At Noontide," and “Treasures of Kurium.” Her address is New York City.
Sidney Martin Grannis, author of the tune, was born Sept. 23, 1827, in Geneseo, Livingston county, N.Y. Lived in Leroy, of the same state, from 1831 to 1884, when he removed to Los Angeles, Cal., where several of his admirers presented him a cottage and grounds, which at last accounts he still occupies. Mr. Grannis won his first reputation as a popular musician by his song “Do They Miss Me at Home, "and his “ Only Waiting," “Cling to the Union,” and “People Will Talk You Know," had an equally wide currency. As a solo singer his voice was remarkable, covering a range of two octaves, and while travelling with members of the “Amphion Troupe,” to which he belonged, he sang at more than five thousand concerts. His tune to “Your Mission” was composed in New Haven, Ct., in 1864.
“TOO LATE! TOO LATEI YE CANNOT ENTER NOW.”
“Too Late" is a thrilling fragment or side-song of Alfred Tennyson's, representing the vain plea of the five Foolish Virgins. Its tune bears the name of a London lady, “Miss Lindsay" (afterwards Mrs. J. Worthington Bliss). The arrangement of air, duo and quartet is very impressive*.
“Late, late, so latel and dark the night and chill:
Late, late, so late! but we can enter still.” "Too late! too late! ye cannot enter now!" *Mahodist Hymnal, No. 743.
"No lightl so latel and dark and chill the night
O let us in that we may find the light!" "Too late! too late! ye cannot enter now!"
"Have we not heard the Bridegroom is so sweet?
O let us in that we may kiss his feet!” "No, No, too late! ye cannot enter now!"
The words are found in “Queen Guinevere," a canto of the “Idyls of the King."
"OH, GALILEE, SWEET GALILEE.”
This is the chorus of a charming poem of three stanzas that shaped itself in the mind of Mr. Robert Morris while sitting over the ruins on the traditional site of Capernaum by the Lake of Genneseret.
Each cooing dove, each sighing bough,
That makes the eve so blest to me,
It bears me back to Galilee.
Oh, Galilee, sweet Galilee,
Where Jesus loved so much to be;
Come sing thy song again to me. Robert Morris, LL.D., born Aug. 31, 1818, was a scholar, and an expert in certain scientific subjects, and wrote works on numismatics and the “Poetry of Free Masonry." Commissioned to Palestine in 1868 on historic and archeological service for the United Order, he explored the