Sunday, July 25, 2010


Today in 1836 – Emily Elliot Born

Emily Elizabeth Steele Elliot was the niece of Charlotte Elliot, author of the hymnJust As I

Am. She wrote a number of hymns

for the church in England where her

father served as pastor. Elliot

published a book called Under

the Pillow containing 48 of her

hymns. It was designed for the

use of those in hospitals and


The one song of hers in common

use today is the Christmas hymn

Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne.

It reminds us of the infinite

condescension required for God the

Son to take on our humanity. Though

“being in the form of God, [He] did not

consider it robbery [a thing to be clutched

and held on to] to be equal with God,

but made Himself of no reputation,

taking the form of a bondservant,

and coming in the likeness of men”

(Phil. 2:6-7).

The third stanza, a touching reference to

Christ’s words in Luke 9:58, is sometimes

omitted from our hymn books. It says:

The foxes found rest, and the

birds their nest
In the shade of the forest

But Thy couch was the sod, O Thou

Son of God,
In the deserts of Galilee.

(2) Today in 1855 – Louis Benson Born
Dr. Louis Fitzgerald Benson practiced law

for seven years. Then, after seminary

training, he became a Presbyterian pastor.

However, his most lasting contribution

to the church at large is likely his scholarly

work in the area of hymnology. Considered

one of the leading authorities on the hymns

of the Christian church, he had a private

library of some 9,000 volumes on the

subject, writing extensively on hymn

history himself. Louis Benson wrote a

number of hymns, and provided English

translations of the work of others.

One of his own is

O Sing a Song

of Bethlehem.

O sing a song

of Bethlehem,

of shepherds

watching there,
And of the news that came to

them from angels

in the air:
The light that

shone on Bethlehem fills

all the

world today;
Of Jesus’ birth

and peace on

earth the angels

sing alway.

He said that the ideal hymn should have the

qualities of: reverence, spiritual reality,

beauty, and cheerfulness. In his classic

work The Hymnody of the Christian Church,

he says:

Hymnody, then, is a spiritual function,

and its welfare proceeds from the heart.

Nevertheless its congregational expression

needs guidance and thoughtful ordering,

as much now as at Corinth in the days of

St. Paul.


several other factors that work together

to make a good quality hymn, take a look

at my article on the subject.

(3) Today in 1865 – Peter Bilhorn Born
American gospel musician and evangelist

Peter Philip Bilhorn had a remarkable career

in many respects. His family was Bavarian,

and their original name was Pulhorn. This

was changed officially by a judge named

Abraham Lincoln (before he became president).

With his older brother, Bilhorn established

the Eureka Wagon and Carriage Works, in

Chicago. He also had a marvelous singing

voice, and entertained in the concert halls

and beer gardens in the area. But when he

came to Christ, he determined to use his

gifts in the service of the Lord.

Bilhorn became a much traveled evangelist,

also serving as a song leader in the early

ministry of Billy Sunday. At the World’s

Christian Endeavour Convention in London’s

Crystal Palace, he conducted a choir of 4,000

voices. On the invitation of Queen Victoria,

he sang several of his own songs in the

chapel at Buckingham Palace.

Graphic Bilhorn OrganSeeing the need for a small portable

pump organ that could be used in street meetings and on the mission field, Peter Bilhorn designed and built one

himself. The small but powerful organ

folded down into a unit about the size of a

large suitcase. The Bilhorn Brothers Organ

Company grew from this, and they sold a

variety of models worldwide. (I can recall

playing an organ of this type in Sunday

School, many years ago.) The inventor turned

all his profits from their sale back into the

Lord’s work.

One time, while conducting meetings in

Wisconsin, the evangelist retired to his

room for the night, but could not sleep.

He felt compelled to take his folding

organ and go out into the bitter cold.

Walking down a street, he saw a gleam

of light in a basement window. When

he knocked, he was admitted to a room

where a group of men were gambling.

He set up his organ and began to sing.

As a result of this bold ministry, six

men trusted in the Saviour that night.

Peter Bilhorn wrote around 2,000 gospel

songs, sometimes providing the tune

for others, as he did for I Will Sing the

Wondrous Story, and other times writing

both words and music himself, as for

Sweet Peace, the Gift of God’s Love.

The ensemble below plays the tune of

the latter hymn.

There comes to my heart one

sweet strain,
A glad and a joyous refrain,
I sing it again and again,
Sweet peace, the gift of God’s love.

Peace, peace, sweet peace,
Wonderful gift from above,
Oh, wonderful, wonderful

Sweet peace, the gift of

God’s love.

Through Christ on the cross peace

was made,
My debt by His death was

all paid,
No other foundation

is laid.
For peace, the gift of

God’s love.

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