Monday, January 26, 2015

"Faint not nor fear..."

Winston Churchill chose the hymns he wished sung at his funeral. There is considerable doubt that he was actually a believer. Mark Tooley writes that "He’s said to have called himself a flying buttress, supporting the church from the outside." Whatever the case may be, his funeral was thoroughly orthodox. Tooley lists and comments on each of the four hymns providing the words of each. They were interesting choices:
Tooley tells us about Churchill's choice of The Battle Hymn of the Republic:
"On New Year’s Day 1942 Churchill, with tears streaming down his cheeks, had stood beside FDR in George Washington’s pew at Christ Church, Alexandria, Virginia singing Battle Hymn of the Republic. The priest had explained it was the first time the southern congregation had sung this hymn associated with Lincoln and northern victory, but the current world crisis necessitated national unity. Churchill would later say its inclusion in his funeral was a tribute to his American mother."
John Bunyan wrote the words of Who Would True Valour See:

Who would true valour see,
Let him come hither;
One here will constant be,
Come wind, come weather
There's no discouragement          
Shall make him once relent
His first avowed intent
To be a pilgrim.
Hobgoblin nor foul fiend
Can daunt his spirit,
He knows he at the end
Shall life inherit.
Then fancies fly away,
He’l fear not what men say,
He’l labor night and day
To be a pilgrim.

Whoso beset him round
With dismal stories
Do but themselves confound;
His strength the more is.
No lion can him fright,
He’l with a giant fight,
He will have a right
To be a pilgrim.


Isaac Watts' O God Our Help in Ages Past is, of course, one of the greatest hymns. I was unfamiliar with the fourth hymn: Fight the Good Fight with All Thy Might:

Fight the good fight with all thy might;
Christ is thy Strength, and Christ thy Right;
Lay hold on life, and it shall be
Thy joy and crown eternally.
Cast care aside, lean on thy guide,
His boundless mercy will provide;
Trust and thy trusting soul shall prove
Christ is its Life, and Christ its Love.

Run the straight race through God’s good grace,    
Lift up thine eyes, and seek His face;
Life with its way before us lies,
Christ is the Path, and Christ the Prize.

Faint not nor fear, His arms are near,
He changeth not, and thou art dear.
Only believe, and thou shalt see
That Christ is all in all to thee.

more

Winston Churchill's Favorite Hymns - Juicy Ecumenism