Godfrey Thring was born in the Alford rectory, at Somerset England, on March 25, 1823, where his father, Rev John Gale Dalton Thring, was the local Church of England clergyman.
Upon graduation from Balliol College, Oxford, he took ‘holy orders’ in 1846 and ministered at two Churches during his lifetime. During his first ministry at Alford with Hornblotton, near Glastonbury – the Church in which he had been born – he wrote numerous hymns. His published books of hymns date from 1866 – 1882, and feature hymns created for each day of the Church Calendar. His second post was as Prebendary at Wells Cathedral
Best known is the last verse of Crown Him with Many Crowns. The first six verses had been penned by Matthew Bridges – an Anglican who had converted to Roman Catholicism. Godfrey Thring “was not satisfied with six crowns, possibly because seven was the sacred Jewish number …” so he wrote:
Crown Him the Lord of life,
Who triumphed o’er the grave,
And rose victorious in the strife
for those He came to save.
His glories now we sing,
Who died, and rose on high,
Who died, eternal life to bring,
and lives that death may die.
Magnificent! A fitting conclusion to Bridge’s stanzas.
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Thring’s “Hymns and Poems for the Holy Days and the Festivals of the Church” had wide impact and carried a fresh reflection of faith. Godfrey’s brother, Edward, a school master, sincerely believed the book would remain a lasting heritage to his brother’s ministry.
As editor of A Church of England Hymn Book, 1880, he made many alterations to existing hymns, and collated a collection of extremely high quality hymns. Many of his alterations were later used in other hymnals.
Godfrey Thring died on 13 September, 1903, in Shamley Green, Surrey, England.
A memorial window may be seen in All Saints’, Alford, Somerset.
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This post is based on notes by my late friend Donald Prout. I have updated these historical posts with information gleaned from other sources. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History. Don’s notes can be found at: www.donaldprout.com
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