Iris' Archives, July 2019
ALFORD, Dean Henry
1810-1871, Anglican. Henry Alford, born in London, England on October 7, 1810 and educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, was probably one of the most gifted men of his day. During his very active lifetime he served as Dean of Canterbury; wrote fifty religious books, including four volumes of the Greek Testament; founded the influential "Contemporary Review" which he edited for a number of years; became a successful poet, artist and musician. Through his untiring devotion to the Christian cause he made many worthwhile contributions both to a better understanding of the Bible and to Christian Hymnody. Because of his strenuous efforts and unlimited activities he suffered a physical breakdown in 1870, and died on January 12, 1871.
Come, Ye Thankful People, Come - 1844
Heads of wheat symbolize the Bread of Life (Mark 14:22). With clusters of grapes, appropriate for holy tables.
The Appeal of the Third Verse
When Prebendary W. St. Hill Bourne wrote his beautiful and widely used harvest hymn, " The Sower went forth sowing," he was a young clergyman, in charge of a church at South Ashford, Kent, with a congregation largely consisting of railway men and their families.
On the proprietors of Hymns Ancient and Modern obtaining permission to use this hymn in one of their new editions, and no special tune having been written for it, they sent it to Sir Frederick Bridge at Westminster Abbey, asking him to compose a suitable tune.
Sir Frederick received this request just at the time when his little daughter Beatrice lay dying, and it can be well understood how, under such circumstances, the words of the third verse would appeal to the father's heart:
Within a hallowed acre
He sows yet other grain,
Where peaceful earth receiveth
The dead He died to gain ;
For, though the growth be hidden.
We know that they shall rise;
Yea, even now they ripen
In sunny Paradise.
O summer land of harvest!
O fields for ever white
With souls that wear Christ's raiment,
With crowns of golden light
Such was the effect of these lovely lines that Sir Frederick himself declared the writing of his tune for them to be different from any other work which he had ever done. To that fact is due, no doubt the exquisite beauty of the music, which, in memory of the beloved little daughter, the composer named "St. Beatrice."
A vicar of a Surrey parish who noticed a dead donkey lying in a field near his church, left behind after a group of gypsies had been camping there, rang the local council to report the matter. The official to whom he spoke answered waggishly that his understanding was that it was the duty of the vicar to bury the dead. 'That's as may be,' replied the vicar, 'but I thought the least I could do was inform the next of kin.'