Hymns for the Winchester Profession bicentennial

If you come to Universalist National Memorial Church this Sunday, you’ll see the following in the order of service (or something like it)

The Universalist General Convention and First Universalist Church, Washington (Church of Our Father), this church’s predecessor, held Winchester Profession Centennial observances in October 1903. The first and third hymns this morning were the two hymns selected for that occasion.

The first hymn is still in our hymnal, Hymns of the Spirit, and is based on Tennyson’s poem. Read Strong Son of God at Cyberhymnal.org. (Here we sing it to Orlando Gibbon’s tune Song 5.)

The second is rare, and not in common usage today, and comes from the hand of Universalist Abel C. Thomas, Thou, whose wide extended sway. To see the text, click “continue reading.” The tune used in 1903 was Brannockburn; the meter is the odd 7.7.7.5.D., so I’ll need to see if we have any options.

Thou, whose wide extended sway
Suns and systems e’er obey!
Thou, our Guardian and our stay,
Evermore adored:
In prospective, Lord, we see
Jew and Gentile, bond and free,
Reconciled in Christ to thee,
Holy, Holy Lord.

Thou by all shall be confessed,
Ever blessing, ever blest,
When to thy eternal rest,
In the courts above,
Thou shalt bring the sore oppressed;
Fill each joy-desiring breast;
Make of each a welcome guest,
At the feast of love.

When destroying death shall die,
Hushed be every rising sigh,
Tears be wiped from every eye,
Never more to fall;
Then shall praises sill the sky,
And angelic hosts shall cry,
Holy, Holy Lord, Most High,
Thou art All in All!

Abel C. Thomas

3 thoughts on “Hymns for the Winchester Profession bicentennial

  1. -I love that rare Universalist hymn (assuming it is singable to the tune). I’m wondering why Universalist hymnody has such a rotten reputation, considering if this is a sample of what was available? Recently Wells Behee has been resurecting an old Universalist ordination hymn that I also thought was good. He said it was sung at his ordination in New Madison, on Nov. 1, 1953; but that post-merger he has almost never heard it. His church will sing it again for a special upcoming service in honor of his 50th anniversary of ordination.

  2. Most aren’t that good, and are equally as Victorian as Universalist. That, and as you suggested, the tunes can be miserable.

    Also, which ordination hymn, per chance?

  3. I don’t know the name of Wells’ ordination hymn, or the proper hymn tune, but here is a fragment of what I have from the lyrics’ text. Notice that it is somewhat gender biased.

    O not to one, but all, our God,
    grant ordination free,
    to heights of life as yet untold,
    and nobler ministry.

    Ordain in him the seeker’s mind
    of eager trusting youth,
    that hurries forth each morn to find
    the mana-falls of truth.

    Ordain the prophet-heart that takes
    lone sides with outcast worth;
    ordain the helping hand that makes
    a dawn of heaven on earth.

    This hymn has a distinct whiff of pre-1930′s Social Gospel movment. It’s not Victorian. I like the poetry and simplicity, but it may sing quite badly. I’ll probably be a guest at the anniversary celebration, and will let you know what it sounds like, and what hymn tune Wells’ finally decides is the corrent one.

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