Iris' Archives, February 2019 

The Undergraduate and the School Girl

Rather more than a century ago a brilliant undergraduate of Cambridge University was sitting for his mathematical examination. Having finished all the problems which had been set, and having to remain in the examination room for the full period of time allowed, he occupied himself by writing on the back of his examination paper the first ten lines of the hymn now known by its opening words :

Oft in danger, oft in woe,

although these particular words were really an emenddation of later times.

Some sixteen years afterwards the paper, with Kirke White's lines still on the back, came into the possession of Mrs. Fuller-Maitland, who was compiling a hymn book.

She could not, of course, use an unfinished hymn but she showed the paper to her daughter Frances, a schoolgirl of fourteen, remarking on the pity of its not being complete. The girl took the paper to her own room, and presently brought it back to her mother, with fourteen new lines added, thus making a perfect hymn.

Mrs. Fuller-Maitland published the hymn in her book, and it has now come into almost universal use.

Kirke White entitled his hymn "The Christian Soldier Encouraged," but Frances Fuller-Maitland attained this aim much more successfully than did the original author. The first verse, as the undergraduate wrote it, is decidedly depressing :

Much in sorrow, oft in woe,
Onward, Christians, onward go,
Fight the fight, and, worn with strife,
Steep with tears the bread of life.

It was the schoolgirl who wrote the stirring lines :

Let your drooping hearts be glad;
March in heavenly armour clad;
Fight, nor think the battle long,
Victory soon shall tune your song.

Henry WhiteWHITE, Henry Kirke

(hwit), 1785-1806, Anglican.

Poet and hymnist, Henry Kirke White, son of butcher, was born in Nottingham, England oMarch 21, 1785. Apprenticed to a weaver of stockings at the age of fourteen, he found the worintolerable and took up the study of law. He madremarkable progress in his studies, mastering languages as well as other subjects. He composepoetry and contributed articles to the periodicalof his day, and at seventeen was encouraged tpublish a volume of his poetry. He became a devout Christian througthe arguments and appeals of an intimate friend, and then chose tbecome a preacher. Before he had taken the orders of the EnglisChurch, however, he died of consumption on October 19, 1806 in thmidst of his education at Cambridge University.

When, Marshaled on the Nightly Plain:180
Oft in Danger, Oft in Woe: 1806

John DarbyDARBY, JOHN N.

(dar'bi) 1800-1882

English founder of the Plymouth Brethren (or Darbyites) , a wide-spreading movement for restoring simple Christian church practice and faith, with conversion, immersion, pre-millenialism, and every Christian a minister.

Humour: HWP

The culprit responsible for a Cambridgeshire vicar's tireless search among his parish records has yet to be identified. The vicar in question noticed a stone in the wall of his churchyard that bore the initials HWP. For months he combed through archives and registers in a vain attempt to identify the unknown parishioner until a sudden access of inspiration suggested a more prosaic meaning - hot water pipe.


Symbol for a community of those who work together for the benefit of all. Used modernly as a symbol for the Christian Church, and is one of the best.