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hawk dashed through his open window into his bosom, and the inspiration to write the line
Let me to Thy bosom fly, -was the genesis of the poem. Another report has it that one day Mr. Wesley, being pursued by infuriated persecutors at Killalee, County Down, Ireland, took refuge in a milk-house on the homestead of the Island Band Farm. When the mob came up the farmer's wife, Mrs. Jane Lowrie Moore, offered them refreshments and secretly let out the fugitive through a window to the back garden, where he concealed himself under a hedge till his enemies went away. When they had gone he had the hymn in his mind and partly jotted down. This tale is circumstantial, and came through Mrs. Mary E. Hoover, Jane Moore's granddaughter, who told it many years ago to her pastor, Dr. William Laurie of Bellefonte, Pa. So careful a narrative deserves all the respect due to a family tradition. Whether this or still another theory of the incidental cause of the wonderful hymn shall have the last word may never be decided nor is it important.
There is “antecedent probability," at least, in the statement that Wesley wrote the first two stanzas soon after his perilous experience in a storm at sea during his return voyage from America to England in 1736. In a letter dated Oct. 28 of that year, he describes the storm that washed away a large part of the ship's cargo, strained her seams so that the hardest pumping could not keep pace with the inrushing water, and finally forced the captain to cut the mizzen-mast away. Young Wesley was ill and sorely alarmed, but knew, he says, that he "abode under the shadow of the Almighty," and finally, “in this dreadful moment,” he was able to encourage his fellow-passengers who were “in an agony of fear,” and to pray with and for them.
It was his awful hazard and bare escape in that tempest that prompted the following stanzas
O Thou who didst prepare
The ocean's caverned cell,
To meet and dwell;
Upon this briny sea,
* * * * * *
In measured sweep we go,
Which yawns below;
Amid the foaming spray,
And died away. And naturally the memory of his almost shipwreck on the wild Atlantic colored more or less the visions of his muse, and influenced the metaphors of his verse for years.
The popularity of “ Jesus, Lover of my Soul” not only procured it, at home, the name of “England's song of the sea,” but carried it with "the course of Empire” to the West, where it has reigned with “Rock of Ages,” for more than a hundred and fifty years, joint primate of inspired human songs
Compiled incidents of its heavenly service would fill a chapter. A venerable minister tells of the supernal comfort that lightened his after years of sorrow from the dying bed of his wife who whispered with her last breath, “Hide me, O my Saviour, hide.”
A childless and widowed father in Washington remembers with a more than earthly peace, the wife and mother's last request for Wesley's hymn, and her departure to the sound of its music to join the spirit of her babe.
A summer visitor in Philadelphia, waiting on a hot street-corner for a car to Fairmount Park, overheard a quavering voice singing the same hymn and saw an emaciated hand caressing a little plant in an open window-and carried away the picture of a fading life, and the words—
Other refuge have I none,
Hangs my helpless soul on Thee. On one of the fields of the Civil War, just after a bloody battle, the Rev. James Rankin of the United Presbyterian Church bent over a dying soldier. Asked if he had any special request to make, the brave fellow replied, “Yes, sing ‘Jesus, Lover of my Soul.'”
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The clergyman belonged to a church that sang only Psalms. But what a tribute to that ubiquitous hymn that such a man knew it by heart! A moment's hesitation and he recalled the words, and, for the first time in his life, sang a sacred song that was not a Psalm. When he reached the lines,
Safe into the haven guide,
O receive my soul at last, -his hand was in the frozen grip of a dead man, whose face wore “the light that never was on sea or land.” The minister went away saying to himself, “If this hymn is good to die by, it is good to live by.”
THE TUNE. Of all the tone-masters who have studied and felt this matchless hymn, and given it vocal wingsMarsh, Zundel, Bradbury, Dykes, Mason-none has so exquisitely uttered its melting prayer, syllable by syllable, as Joseph P. Holbrook in his “Refuge.” Unfortunately for congregational use, it is a duo and quartet score for select voices; but the four-voice portion can be a chorus, and is often so sung. Its form excludes it from some hymnals or places it as an optional beside a congregational tune. But when rendered by the choir on special occasions its success in conveying the feeling and soul of the words is complete. There is a prayer in the swell of every semitone and the touch of every accidental, and the sweet concord of the
duet-soprano with tenor or bass-pleads on to the end of the fourth line, where the full harmony reinforces it like an organ with every stop in play. The tune is a rill of melody ending in a river of song.*
For general congregational use, Mason's "Whitman” has wedded itself to the hymn perhaps closer than any other. It has revival associations reaching back more than sixty years.
"WHEN MARSHALLED ON THE NIGHTLY PLAIN.”
Perhaps no line in all familiar hymnology more readily suggests the name of its author than this. In the galaxy of poets Henry Kirke White was a brief luminary whose brilliancy and whose early end have appealed to the hearts of three generations. He was born at Nottingham, Eng., in the year 1795. His father was a butcher, but the son, disliking the trade, was apprenticed to a weaver at the age of fourteen. Two years later he entered an attorney's office as copyist and student.
The boy imbibed sceptical notions from some source, and might have continued to scoff at religion to the last but for the experience of his intimate friend, a youth named Almond, whose life was changed by witnessing one day the happy death of a Christian believer. Decided to be a
*Holbrook has also an arrangement of Franz Abt's, "When the Swallows Homeward Fly" written to “Jesus, Lover of my Soul," but with Wesley's words it is far less effective than his original work. “Refuge" is not a manufacture but an inspiration.