Horatius Bonar! That’s a name you won’t forget! Mr. Bonar was a Scottish churchman and poet in the 1800s (1808-1889). He was one of eleven children (two of his brothers were John James and Andrew; who knows why Horatius got the far more interesting handle!). He was a supporter of the Scottish revival and wrote biographical sketches of many of the revivalists. He was also a pastor, an author of several books, a hymnwriter (he wrote hundreds of them!), a poet, and an evangelist. He was almost 80 when he preached for the last time in his church.
BIG things, a great resume, but what brought Mr. Bonar to my attention was a hymn that he wrote about small things, about praise filling “every part,” even the “common things” of life, so that fellowship with Christ makes all “duties and deeds” sacred and turns each “fear, fret, and care” into a song.
I like to be able to sing my hymns, and the original tune for this, though very pretty, is not well known. However, it can also be sung to the tune of Isaac Watts’ “I Sing the Mighty Power of God,” with two stanzas of the hymn below combined for each verse. Hope you enjoy.
Fill thou my life, O Lord my God,
in every part with praise,
that my whole being may proclaim
thy being and thy ways.
Not for the lip of praise alone,
nor e’en the praising heart
I ask, but for a life made up
of praise in every part!
Praise in the common things of life,
its goings out and in;
praise in each duty and deed,
however small and mean.
Fill every part of me with praise;
let all my being speak
of thee and of thy love, O Lord,
poor though I be, and weak.
So shalt thou, Lord, from me, e’en me,
receive the glory due;
and so shall I begin on earth
the song forever new.
So shall each fear, each fret, each care
be turned into a song,
and every winding of the way
the echo shall prolong;
So shall no part of day or night
from sacredness be free;
but all my life, in every step
be fellowship with thee.
Thank you, Horatius Bonar, for using your God-given talents to bless me with these words.
Note: If you would like to read more about Mr. Bonar, a Google search reveals several sites about him and lists his other hymns as well as his books. His personal life was just as busy as his “professional” life of pastoring and writing. He and his wife, Jane, also a hymnwriter, had nine children, but five of them died very young. Later one of their daughters was widowed, and she returned, with her five children, to live with her parents. Jane died when Horatius was in his early 60s, and he suffered with illness for the last couple years of his life.
Oddly enough, though he wrote more than 600 hymns, his church did not sing hymns during the worship service! Late in his life, he began to sing one of his hymns in a worship service, and two of the elders walked out.