Friday, March 21, 2008

jane crewdson

Don't tell Mark Driscoll, but my new favorite songwriter is a "chick".

Actually, she was more of a poet or a lyricist (I don't know that she composed any of the music for her songs, which is not uncommon among hymn writers).

Jane Crewdson (1809-1863) lived with her husband, Thomas, in Manchester, England.

I stumbled across her work yesterday on cyberhymnal and immediately fell in love with her lyrics. Their depth and beauty was undeniable; but what struck me was that each of her songs seemed to contain a touch of darkness. She wrote about the hard truths of God and faith, and did so in a way that moves the soul.

I have often heard that there are not enough laments sung in contemporary worship settings. While this may be true, laments are equally hard to come by in churches that worship from the pages of your average hymnal, as well. That is why the work of Jane Crewdson caught my attention.

She was a poet and her songs are works of art. Below is just an example...

"Lord, We Know That Thou Art Near"

Lord, we know that Thou art near us,
Though Thou seem’st to hide Thy face;
And are sure that Thou dost hear us,
Though no answer we embrace.

Not one promise shall miscarry
Not one blessing come too late
Though the vision long may tarry
Give us patience, Lord to wait.

While withholding—Thou art giving
In Thine own appointed way
And while waiting we’re receiving
Blessings suited to our day.

O the wondrous loving-kindness
Planning, working out of sight,
Bearing with us in our blindness,
Out of darkness bringing light.

Weaving blessings out of trials,
Out of grief evolving bliss;
Answering prayer by wise denials
When Thy children ask amiss.

And when faith shall end in vision,
And when prayer is lost in praise,
Then shall love, in full fruition,
Justify Thy secret ways.

Read that third stanza again. "While withholding—Thou art giving in Thine own appointed way; And while waiting we’re receiving blessings suited to our day." If you aren't speechless right it again.

To write words that lift up God as God; that glorify Him and honor Him and praise Him for all His goodness...and to do so in light of sorrow and grief and not an easy thing to do. She not only succeeded in doing that, but did it with, as I mentioned, such depth and beauty. It is incredible.

She died after a long illness in 1863. Posthumously, a book of her lyrics and poetry, titled "The Little While and Other Poems", was published. I have yet to find it online and the closest library that has a copy is over 400 miles away. Thus I don't know if I'll ever get my hands on it. So, if you run by a copy of it at a used book store in England...hook a brother up.

Before yesterday, I had never heard the name Jane Crewdson. Now, she is an inspiration and, in many ways, (pardon me if this is cheesy) a hero. Even she is a "chick".


bill said...

by the way, in case you are interested (which, judging by the lack of comments, i'm guessing you are not)...betsy found a copy of that book online yesterday.

she is a dang impressive online scavenger...and an even better wife!

ragamuffinminister said...

cyberhymnal is great.

bill said...

agreed. i absolutely love cyberhymnal.

Anonymous said...

Just came across a poem by Jane Crewdson entitled 'The Thank Thee". I savoured it. The see the visual she created with words that are so God inspired. Thought of doing a search and came across your BLOG. Thanks the the info. I will continue to search for more by Jane Crewdson.