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Child, your Father calls, "Come home." Some of the spirit of this old tune in the few hymnals where the hymn is now printed) is preserved in Geo. Kingsley's “Messiah” which accompanies the words, but the modulations are wanting.
Joseph Swain was born in Birmingham, Eng. in 1761. Bred among mechanics, he was early apprenticed to the engraver's trade, but he was a boy of poetic temperament and fond of writing verses. After the spiritual change which brought a new purpose into his life, he was baptized by Dr. Rippon and studied for the ministry. At the age of about twenty-five, he was settled over the Baptist church in Walworth, where he remained till his death, April 16, 1796.
For more than a century his hymns have lived and been loved in all the English-speaking world. Among those still in use are
How sweet, how heavenly is the sight,
O happy day that fixed my choice.
These were voices as sure to be heard in converts' meetings as the leader's prayer or text, the former sung inevitably to Rimbault's tune, “Happy Day," and the latter to a “Western Melody” quite as closely akin to Wesley's words.
Edward Francis Rimbault, born at Soho, Eng., June 13, 1816, was at sixteen years of age organist at the Soho Swiss Church, and became a skilled though not a prolific composer. He once received -and declined—the offer of an appointment as professor of music in Harvard College. Died of a lingering illness Sept. 26, 1876.
“COME, HOLY SPIRIT, HEAVENLY DOVE."
This was the immortal song-litany that fitted almost anywhere into every service. The Presbya terians and Congregationalists sang it in Tansur's “St. Martins," the Baptists in William Jones' “Stephens" and the Methodists in Maxim's “Turner” (which had the most music), but the hymn went about as well with one as with another.
The Rev. William Jones (1726–1800) an English rector, and Abraham Maxim of Buckfield, Me., (1773–1829) contributed quite a liberal share of the "continental" tunes popular in the latter part of the 18th century. Maxim was eccentric, but the tradition that an unfortunate affair of the heart once drove him into the woods to make away with himself, but a bird on the roof of a logger's hut,
making plaintive sounds, interrupted him, and he sat down and wrote the tune “Hallowell,” on a strip of white birch bark, is more likely legendary. The following words, said to have inspired his minor tune, are still set to it in the old collections.
As on some lonely building's top
The sparrow makes her moan,
I sit and grieve alone.*
Maxim was fond of the minor mode, but his minors, like “Hallowell,” “New Durham," etc., are things of the past. His major chorals and fugues, such as “Portland,” “Buckfield,” and “Turner” had in them the spirit of healthier melody and longer life. He published at least two collections, The Oriental Harmony, in 1802, and The Northern Harmony, in 1805.
William Tansur (Tans-ur), author of "St. Martins" (1669–1783), was an organist, composer, compiler, and theoretical writer. He was born at Barnes, Surrey, Eng., (according to one account,) and died at St. Neot's.
“COME, THOU FOUNT OF EVERY BLESSING.”
This hymn of Rev. Robert Robinson was almost always heard in the tune of “Nettleton,” composed by John Wyeth, about 1812. The more
*Versified by Nahum Tate from Ps. 102: 7.
wavy melody of “Sicily” (or “Sicilian Hymn") sometimes carried the verses, but never with the same sympathetic unction. The sing-song movement and accent of old "Nettleton" made it the country favorite.
Robert Robinson, born in Norfolk, Eng., Sept. 27, 1735, was a poor boy, left fatherless at eight years of age, and apprenticed to a barber, but was converted by the preaching of Whitefield and studied till he obtained a good education, and was ordained to the Methodist ministry. He is supposed to have written his well-known hymn in 1758. A certain unsteadiness of mind, however, caused him to revise his religious beliefs too often for his spiritual health or enjoyment, and after preaching as a Methodist, a Baptist, and an Independent, he finally became a Socinian. On a stage-coach journey, when a lady fellow-passenger began singing “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing," to relieve the monotony of the ride, he said to her, “Madam, I am the unhappy man who wrote that hymn many years ago; and I would give a thousand worlds, if I had them, if I could feel as I felt then."
Robinson died June 9, 1790.
John Wyeth was born in Cambridge, Mass., 1792, and died at Harrisburg, Pa., 1858. He was a musician and publisher, and issued a Music Book, Wyeth's Repository of Sacred Music,
“A POOR WAYFARING MAN OF GRIEF,”
Written by James Montgomery, Dec., 1826, was a hymn of tide and headway in George Coles' tune of “Duane St.," with a step that made every heart beat time. The four picturesque eight-line stanzas made a practical sermon in verse and song from Matt. 25:35, telling how
A poor wayfaring man of grief
Hath often crossed me on my way,
That I could never answer nay.
Whither he went ur whence he came,
That won my love, I knew not why;
-and in the second and third stanzas the narrator relates how he entertained him, and this was the sequel
Then in a moment to my view
The strangei st.. Ited :rom disguise
When once that song was started, every tongue took it up, (and it was strange if every foot did not count the measure,) and the coldest kindled with gospel warmth as the story swept on.*
*Montgomery's poem, “The Stranger," has seven stanzas. The full dra matic effect of their connection could only be produced by a set piece.