Horatius Bonar Longs for the Spirit

This is the day that … Horatius Bonar died in 1889.

He was born December 19, 1808 in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Along with his brother Alexander, he witnessed revival meetings in 1839 under W.C. Burns. The brothers kept revival expectancy alive in the hearts of their hearers.

He is remembered as one of the greatest of Scottish hymn-writers, indeed the “prince of Scottish hymn writers”.

“Go labour on, spend and be spent” and “I heard the voice of Jesus say, ‘Come unto Me and rest’,” are but two of the 600 hymns which came from his ever-busy pen.

Besides hymn writing, he found time to edit the “Quarterly Journal of Prophecy” – a magazine dedicated to pre-millennial beliefs. He also was elected Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland and ministered at Chalmers Memorial Church in Edinburgh for 23 years.

Over and again his hymns return to the theme of the Lord’s return:

Toil on, and in thy toil rejoice;
For toil comes rest, for exile home.

Soon shalt thou hear the Bridegroom’s voice,

The midnight cry, “Behold I come”.

In reference to his hymn writing his friend, Rev. E. H. Lundie, said at his memorial service, following his death:
“His hymns were written in very varied circumstances, sometimes timed by the tinkling brook that babbled near him; sometimes attuned to the ordered tramp of the ocean, whose crested waves broke on the beach by which he wandered; sometimes set to the rude music of the railway train that hurried him to the scene of duty; sometimes measured by the silent rhythm of the midnight stars that shone above him.”

Dr Horatius Bonar lamented the church’s reluctance to embrace the move of the Holy Spirit. He likened the limiting of the Holy Spirit in his day to Israel’s rejection of Christ in the days of His flesh.

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.