Continuing with our new series on favourite hymns, and with Pentecost soon upon us, Christopher Jobson1 gives tells us about the history behind “Our Blest Redeemer”, composed by Harriet Auber in 1829:
“My all-time favourite for Pentecost is Our Blest Redeemer, hardly ever sung nowadays, but I find it quite stunning especially when one knows the circumstances in which it was written.” CJ
After attending the Whitsunday2 service in her local Anglican Church, Harriet Auber sat by her bedroom window, meditating on the ministry of the Holy Spirit – then and now. Inspired to write this hymn, but not having a pen and paper to hand, she slipped a diamond ring off her finger and scratched the words on the window-pane. It’s said that thousands came to see that window in the years that followed. Later it was replaced with another piece of glass and the original has been lost.
Our blest Redeemer, ere He breathed
his tender last farewell,
a Guide, a Comforter, bequeathed
with us to dwell.
He came in tongues of living flame,
to teach, convince, subdue;
all-pow’rful as the wind he came,
as viewless too.
He came sweet influence to impart,
a gracious, willing guest,
while he can find one humble heart
wherein to rest.
And his that gentle voice we hear,
soft as the breath of ev’n,
that checks each fault, that calms each fear
and speaks of heav’n.
And ev’ry virtue we possess,
and every victory won,
and every thought of holiness,
are his alone.
Spirit of purity and grace,
our weakness, pitying, see:
O make our hearts thy dwelling-place,
and worthier Thee.
(Harriet Auber, 1829)
Taken from Hymns Old & New, New Anglican Edition, Kevin Mayhew Ltd, 1996
1Christopher Jobson is our local historian and Organist of Colemere Church for 64 years.
2Whitsun (Whitsunday ) is the traditional name for the Christian holy day of Pentecost.
You can read more of Christopher’s work in the series “Treasures of the Benefice“.
The feature image for this post is “Mechelen St – Jan Lucas Franchoys Descent of the Holy Spirit”, WikiCommons (P.D.).