Sunday, 24 May 2009

Ten Little Churchmen

This poem first appeared in a New Zealand parish magazine about 50 years ago. I have used it a couple of times in my addresses and I thought I'd share it with you.

Ten little churchmen went to church when fine;
But it started raining, then there were nine.
Nine little Churchmen stayed up late;
One overslept himself, then there were eight
Eight little Churchmen on the road to Heaven;
One joined a rambling club, then there were seven
Seven little Churchmen heard of Sunday “flicks”
One thought he’d like to go, then there were six.
Six little Churchmen kept the place alive:
One bought a television, then there were five.
Five little Churchmen seemed loyal to the core;
The vicar upset one of them, then there were four.
Four little Churchmen argued heatedly
Over all the changes; then there were three.
Three little Churchmen sang the service through
Got a hymn they didn’t know, then there were two.
Two little Churchmen disputed who should run
The next social evening; then there was one.
One faithful Churchmen knowing what to do
Got a friend to go to church; then there was two.
Two sincere Churchmen each brought in one more;
So their number doubled, then there were four.
Four sturdy Churchmen simply couldn’t wait
Till they found four others, and so there were eight.
Eight eager Churchmen at communion every week
Soon encouraged others, troubled souls to seek.
All the seats in church are filled, not a vacant pew!
O God, supply this grace and zeal in our own parish too!

Sunday, 3 May 2009

In The Garden

I recently submitted to Songfacts some information re the classic hymn "In The Garden." This is what I submitted.

"In the Garden" was written by C. Austin Miles (1868-1946), who at the age of 24 left his job as a pharmacist to concentrate on music publishing and hymn-writing. For 37 years, he served as editor and manager at the hymnal publishers Hall-Mack, whilst penning a number of religious songs including “Answering Thy Call,” “He Is Mine” and “Love, Mercy and Grace.”
"In the Garden" is Miles’ best known piece. It was commissioned by the music publisher Dr. Adam Geible, who asked Miles to write something that was “sympathetic in tone, breathing tenderness in every line; one that would bring tenderness in every line; one that would bring hope to the hopeless, rest for the weary, and downy pillows to dying beds.” Miles later recalled in George W. Sanville's book, Forty Gospel Hymn Stories the inspiration for this song: “One day in March, 1912, I was seated in the dark room, where I kept my photographic equipment and organ. I drew my bible toward me; it opened at my favorite chapter, John 20-whether by chance or inspiration let each reader decide.” Miles went on to recount how he had a vision, in which he could see and hear Mary Magdalene weeping outside the tomb of Jesus as the resurrected Christ appeared to her. He recalled how he “became a silent witness to that dramatic moment in Mary's life, when she knelt before her Lord, and cried, ‘Rabboni!’” Miles then described how: “I awakened in full light, gripping the Bible, with muscles tense and nerves vibrating. Under the inspiration of this vision I wrote as quickly as the words could be formed the poem exactly as it has since appeared. That same evening I wrote the music.”
Miles great-granddaughter recounted on mnkurmudge.blogspot that the hymn “was written on a cold, dreary day in a cold, dreary and leaky basement in New Jersey that didn't even have a window in it let alone a view of a garden.”
After the hymn was published in 1912 it was popularized during Billy Sunday’s evangelistic campaigns of the 1910s and 20s. It is now one of America’s most popular hymns.
Elvis Presley recorded this hymn on his 1967 gospel album How Great Thou Art. Many other artists have covered it including Ella Fitzgerald, Loretta Lynn, Dionne Warwick, Johnny Cash, Amy Grant and Perry Como.
The hymn is sung in the closing scene of the 1984 movie Places of the Heart.