Henry Cutler Brings English Tradition to USA Choirs

This is the day that Henry Stephen Cutler was born in Boston, USA, in 1824.

Cutler studied organ under A.U. Hayter, organist of Trinity Church in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1844, he went to Europe to continue his studies in Frankfurt am Main. While abroad, he visited many English cathedrals and be came familiar with their style of music.

He became famous as an organist, then as choir conductor, at Boston’s Church of the Advent, commencing there is 1852. It was here he introduced the first surpliced male choir in America, and was criticised for it! A surplice is a loose fitting ecclesiastical gown – what we might now call a choir-robe. “Some people considered using robes in a church service to be overly formal!” (Treasury of Great Hymns, by G. Johnson, page 278).

Not to be discouraged, Cutler was appointed organist/choir master at New York City’s Episcopal Trinity Church in 1858. And this time, in honour of a visit by the Prince of Wales, he had his choir clothed in “cassocks and cottas” (a short white linen or lace garment worn over a cassock).

Again it caused a stir … and is thought to have been the cause of the church members “voting him out” at the next meeting, although a different reason was given!

Cutler also played at churches in Brooklyn, New York; Providence, Rhode Island; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Troy, New York; and Newark, New Jersey.

Henry Cutler wrote the melody “All Saints New”, to which Reginald Heber’s words, “The Son of God goes forth to war”, is set in some hymnals.

Henry Cutler died on 5 December, 1902.

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History, which I previously considered to be a little stuffy and of little practical value. I find in the process of updating Don’s Christian Diary that I am being constantly refreshed, illuminated or challenged by the lives of those who have gone before.

Logophile of Kings and Monarchs

It’s been a while since I discussed words with you and so I thought I’d bring up another regal topic. This time I want to discuss the idea of being Imperial in an Empire.

Imperial & Empire

While these words appear quite different in English they actually come from the same Latin root. They both come from the Latin concept of ‘command’, in the word ‘imperare’. By Middle Latin the word had morphed into ‘imperium’. In Middle English the word had become ‘emperial’. Both of our English words imperial and empire spring from that original Latin root.

Hence it is true that imperial things belong to the empire. What is done by the monarch’s command is that which is deemed imperial and impacts his empire.

Of Kings and Monarchs

Consider these various meanings for the term ‘imperial’.

1. Pertaining to an empire

2. Pertaining to an emperor or empress

3. Characterizing the rule or authority of a sovereign state over its dependencies

4. Of the nature or rank of an emperor or supreme ruler

Both our words Imperial and Empire are intrinsically linked to Kings and Monarchs. Since much of the world has been under some form of monarchical rule – including all former British colonies, much of Europe, Russia, many Asian nations, African countries and South American cultures – the idea of Imperial things and Empires is relevant to most people on the planet.

Things Imperial

We have an interesting collection of things designated as ‘imperial’ due to their monarchical origins.

There is a coin called an ‘imperial’. It is a Russian Coin used from 1897 – 1917. It is so called because of the same Latin root as our word imperial, which became ‘imperialis’, meaning a coin, as something authorised by the monarch. A Roman coin bearing the monarch’s image, then, was in imperialis. The coin which was shown to Jesus Christ, with Caesar’s image on it, was an imperialis – an imperial coin.

Imperial Measures are those measures that were used in Britain and British colonies. In most nations the imperial measures have been replaced by metric measures. Imperial measures were ‘imperial’ because they were the ones approved by the monarch. Standardisation enabled the authorities to regulate against false measurements and fraudulent dealings. As the monarchs determined the set weights and measures their officers could then enforce accuracy and punish those who used unjust methods.

Imperial Law is that body of law which comes down to us as law enacted through the centuries by various monarchs. In their imperial capacity monarchs are able to impose law and regulations which all in their empire must follow. What is particularly significant about Imperial Law is that much of the freedom which western societies take for granted have come to us by rulings of various monarchs down through the past 1,000 years.

Imperial Law

Not all laws enacted by monarchs were so enacted with the enthusiastic support of the monarch. The Magna Carta, for example, is a law that was forced on King John. Yet, by his action of ratifying that law it comes to us as ‘imperial law’.

In Australia the original national constitution is built upon the pre-existing Imperial Law. Subsequently the various states of the Commonwealth have enacted legislation ratifying that pre-existing Imperial Law as continuing its validity for the benefit of Australian citizens.

So Imperial Law is not as out of date or irrelevant as the idea might suggest to our modern minds. We are indebted to imperial laws for many of the freedoms we have taken for granted all our lives.

Jerome Used His Pen To Bless the Church

This is the day that … Jerome died in AD 420, at the age of 89.

Born in Europe just 300 years after the birth of Christ, Jerome had a good education and learned several languages.

At the age of 18 he was baptised and joined the church, probably just to please his godly parents!

He writes concerning two things that happened later, causing him to think more seriously about his commitment. One was a dream in which he saw Judgment Day, and he heard a voice say: “You are not a Christian.”

History usually refers to him as Saint Jerome, but one gets the distinct impression that he was not all that saintly!

He was “controversial, argumentative and barbed in his attacks on those who opposed him,” writes M. Tengbom.

Another says: “He was unable to bear rivals … he died cantankerous and argumentative as ever.”

Another: “Jerome was so objectionable that no-one would live anywhere near him.”

Eventually Jerome went to live in Bethlehem … in a cave. It was in this cave that he translated the Scriptures into Latin, the tongue of the common (vulgar) people, hence it became known as “the Latin Vulgate version”. The “Latin Vulgate” was the main Bible in Europe for over 1000 years.

The story is told that one day while he was translating, a lion entered his cave. It had a thorn stuck in its paw so Jerome pulled it out and the lion became his pet and lived in the cave with him! Since then, whenever someone has painted Jerome doing his translation work, a lion has always been included in the painting.

Jerome produced a huge volume of works, including translations, commentaries and letters, which he intended to see published. He used the pen to argue his points and to press his interpretations.

Initially he looked on the Septuagint as an inspired text, but his continued study of Hebrew and his discussions with rabbis led him to revere the Hebrew text and disdain the Septuagint.

His correspondence is valued for the insight it give to the culture and thinking of his day, both in his own expressions and in the matters which he challenges. His contribution has greatly impacted Christendom.

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com.

Sadhu Sundar Singh Takes Christ on Foot

This is the day that … Sadhu Sundar Singh, “The Apostle of the Bleeding Feet”, was born to a well-to-do family in Rampur, Northern India, in 1889.

Sundar was born into a devout Sikh family, a strict religious brotherhood within Hinduism, and as a youngster he memorised the Bagawadgita, mastered the Vedas and read the Koran. His parents sent him to a Christian school because it was closer than the government school three miles away, and the education received was excellent.

He was also influenced by Sadhus who taught Yoga. His mother told him not to be selfish and materialistic like his brothers but to be a Sadhu, one who devotes his life to religion and lives on charity.

Thus Sundar grew to teenage years with a strange aversion to Christianity … he “hated the Christian teachers, their school, their Scriptures and their Jesus” (The Yellow Robe, by Cyril Davey, page 25). He threw stones at the Christian preachers and encouraged his friends to do the same, and he also tore a New Testament to pieces before his school friends and burned it in the school courtyard, when he was but 14 years of age. Then came his vision of the Risen Christ a few days later, and the “Damascus Road” experience. It was 17-18 December, 1904.

Sundar woke at 3am and was in despair. His Hindu religious devotion had left him empty and he contemplated suicide. He asked God to show him the right way. Then a bright light appeared and he saw Jesus, who said to him, “Why have you not followed me?” He did so immediately and felt great joy.
He cut off his long hair, a mark of Sikhdom. When he told his father he had become a Christian “his father’s wrath was dreadful to see”. He was cast out of the family and poisoned! Found by an Indian Christian, Rev. P. Uppal, Sundar was nursed back to health. He was baptised on 3 September, 1905 – his 16th birthday.

He then dedicated himself as a Christian Sadhu, wearing a yellow robe and wandering without any means of support. This way he knew he could reach his people who accepted such holy men.

In 1910 he studied for ministry in the Anglican Church until he found out that upon ordination he would be expected to stay in one diocese. He left and began an itinerant preaching ministry that took him around India and even into Tibet.

The years that followed were filled with incredible suffering and hardship. He travelled all over North India, despite heat and cold, plague, malaria, cholera, facing death more than a dozen times.

Curious tales abound: patting a leopard as if it were a dog; being miraculously delivered from a well, the top of which had been locked; the meeting with the 300 year-old hermit who “told Sundar Christ’s coming was imminent” (Sadhu Sundar Singh, by J. Lynch Watson, page 66).

Sundar’s books don’t always reveal the evangelical image given in the Moody Press biography by Cyril Davey. He was a student of Swedenborg’s writings … and he speaks of “those in hell who will ultimately be brought to Heaven …” due to the intercession of the departed saints. On the other hand he speaks of the sacrifice of Christ “by which we are saved from sin and its consequences”.

He tells the pilgrim bathing in the ‘sacred’ Ganges that “I have already bathed by faith in the blood of Christ and by His grace have been saved …” (With and Without Christ, by S.S. Singh, page 32).

Sundar preached in Madras and Ceylon, travelling all over India and Ceylon, then internationally from 1918 – 1922. He visited Malaya, Japan, China, Western Europe, Australia and Israel.

In 1920 the Sadhu visited Australia – unheralded. And three weeks “of hurriedly arranged meetings gave to thousands the memory of a Presence” (Story of Sadhu Sundar Singh, by Harold Short, page 7).

In 1922 he was happy to be back in his beloved India. The tour of Western lands had distressed him.

Each year he made a trip into Tibet, and it was in 1929 that he set out once again to preach in the forbidden land.

And there the story finishes … he was last seen leaving the little town of Kalka … and never seen again.

One biographer pays the following tribute to this remarkable servant of Christ – “Coming from the presence of Sundar Singh, men forget themselves, they forget him – but they think of Christ!” (The Sadhu, by Streeter and Appasamy, page xv).
What better tribute could be offered?

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com.

John Howard Reforms Europe’s Prisons

This is the day that … John Howard was born in 1726.

“He was a very earnest Christian, a teetotaller and a vegetarian, whose life was devoted to prison reform” (Dictionary of the Christian Church, page 486).

To appreciate the incredible changes he made in the prison system one should read of the terrible abuses that took place in his day.

Born in the vicinity of London into a wealthy family, he was, however, a sickly child. After school days were completed he was apprenticed to a grocer. Orphaned at the age of 17 he found himself the possessor of “not inconsiderable” riches, so he paid out his indenture (terminating his apprenticeship) and travelled the Continent.

He did much study but became ill on his travels. A widow “nearly twice his age” nursed him back to health and he offered her marriage as a reward for her kind services. He was 25 at the time, November 10, 1755. She died four years later.

John Howard again devoted himself to travel, and married again at the age of 32. A son was born four days before the second Mrs Howard died, on 27 March, 1765.

In 1772 – after more journeying across Europe – he “became engaged in church affairs.” For a while he attended Bunyan’s Chapel in Bedford (Bunyan, of course, no longer being the minister. Bunyan died in 1688).

Then he built a meeting-house “to which he contributed generously” (Twelve Marvellous Men, by E. Enock, page 55).

In the role of High Sheriff of Bedford (a civil appointment usually only available to members of the Church of England) John Howard visited some prisons and saw for himself the inhumane conditions. Thus began his crusade of prison reform. “It is said that he spent 30,000 pounds Sterling of his own money in his reforming activities” (Who’s Who in Christian History, page 330).

He first campaigned that those who ran the gaol should be paid by the county, not the prisoners. This enabled innocent people who had been kept in prison to be immediately released, instead of being held until they could pay the gaoler his fees. He then pressed for sanitation, annual white-washing and scrubbing of the cell walls, industry for the prisoners and more.

His influence stretched to prisons in Europe also … and it was en route from a visit to St Petersburg and Moscow, visiting military hospitals, that he caught Camp Fever from a female patient he attended, and died on 20 January, 1790.

He was buried near the village of Dauphigny on the road to St Nicholas. There is a statue by Bacon to his memory in St Paul’s, London, and one at Bedford by A Gilbert. In personal appearance Howard is described as having been short, thin and sallow — unprepossessing apart from the attraction of a penetrating eye and a benevolent smile. (Jrank Encylcopedia)

“Along with Elizabeth Fry (a devout Quaker) Howard must be awarded pride of place in the cause of prison reform” (Concise Universal Biography, page 783).

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com.