A View From Middle England - Conservative with a slight libertarian touch - For Christian charity and traditional belief - Free Enterprise NOT Covert Corporatism

Friday, April 22, 2011

There Is A Green Hill Far Away

Today is Good Friday. The sun is shining brightly in Solihull. It is quiet at the moment. Reflecting on the day, I reminded myself of this hymn, by Mrs Cecil Frances Alexander (1818-1895). She wrote this hymn when she was only twenty years old. As a little girl, she showed that she had a poetic gift and her father encouraged her in it. She was also influenced by the Oxford Movement and by the writings of John Keble. There is a Green Hill far away was inspired by a little hill outside the walls of Derry. In her mind it was on a hill like that that Jesus was crucified. Her hymn was to help her godchildren to understand the statements of the creed, "Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried". This hymn was composed while she sat by the bedside of a sick child. Several great musical composers have written tunes for this hymn. Charles Gounod pronounced it the most perfect hymn in the English language because of its charming simplicity. The composer of Faust said that some of her lyrics "seemed to set themselves to music."

In the middle of the First World War a doctor was busy in his consulting room with patients who were affected by the many tensions of the war. As he was listening to their anxieties, he heard singing from a room above his consulting room. It was his wife and children singing "There is a green hill far away". The doctor said to his patients, "If we all believed in the truth of that hymn we hear being sung, we would have less worry, anxiety and fear".

Link - Stem Publishing


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