Bathurst's Psalms and Hymns

Bathurst's Psalms and Hymns

from The Barwicker No. 54
June 1999

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Rev. William Hiley Bathurst was rector of Barwick-in-Elmet from 1820 to 1852. He was probably Barwick's greatest benefactor, donating large sums to the parish particularly for religious and educational purposes (see 'The Barwicker' No.33). He retired from active church life when he left Barwick to live on his family estate at Lydney Park in Gloucestershire, where his great-greatgrandson, Viscount Bledisloe, now resides.

Until a few years ago the curator of the small museum at Lydney Park was Mrs Beryl Butcher, who last year kindly presented to the Society a small printed volume entitled 'Psalms and Hymns for Public Use' by Rev. Bathurst. This was brought out in 1842 as the second edition of a book first published in 1831.

In the preface, written in Barwick-in-Elmet on November 15th. 1830, he says, "The singing of 'Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs' is so pleasing and edifying a part of divine worship, that it is much to be wished that all persons in our Congregations should feel it a duty to join in thus giving praise and glory to God: and may He, who is the Giver of every good gift, direct us how to sing, as well as pray, 'with the spirit and with the understanding also'."

Except for about a dozen, he includes metrical versions for singing of all the 150 psalms, often giving more than one version of each. The volume is completed with 206 hymns in 13 categories, with indexes of subjects and first lines. He tells us that the 18 psalms marked with a cross "are either wholly, or in part, taken from other versions" but the rest of the psalms and all of the hymns he modestly describes as "original", in other words he wrote them himself.

This is a monumental work published in a tiny volume measuring only about three by four inches. It represents on average three religious poems written for every month of his first decade here, when in addition he devoted himself to much parish work, as he describes in the log-book which he has left us. As well as some essays and sermons, he published in 1849 a volume of poems entitled 's: 'Metrical Musings', of which we have so far been unable to see a copy. Who knows, it might contain some poems about life in Barwick.

Mr Bathurst's psalms and hymns are written in simple language, free from doctrinal complexities and with a marked rhythm. Tunes suitable for the singing of each piece are indicated. Two of the hymns were published in 'The Ancient and Modern Hymn Book': No. 278, 'O for faith that will not shrink', which we recorded in 'The Barwicker' noted above, and No.272, which we include below..
O Saviour, may we never rest
Till thou art form'd within;
Till thou hast calm'd our troubled breast,
And crush'd the power of sin.

O may we gaze upon thy cross
Until the wondrous sight
Makes earthly treasures seem but dross,
And earthly sorrows light:

Until releas'd from carnal ties,
Our spirit upward springs;
And sees true peace above the skies,
True joy in heavenly things.

There as we gaze, may we become
United, Lord, to thee;
And in a fairer, happier home
Thy perfect beauty see.
The collection includes a version by Mr Bathurst of the well known 23rd psalm 'The Lord is my Shepherd', where he expresses the sentiments of the poem in just sixteen short lines which, like so much of the work shown here, are well constructed and seem to flow effortlessly from his pen. The psalm was sung in Barwick Methodist Church on 14 February 1999..
Jesus, if thou my Shepherd be,.
My soul no want shall know;.
For in green fields thou leadest me,.
Where healing waters flow..
In paths of righteousness and peace.
Thou causest me to tread;.
And pourest, with a rich increase,.
Thy blessings on my head..
Yea, though I pass the gloomy shade.
Of death, I will not fear:.
Thy staff shall guide me, and thine aid.
My steadfast heart shall cheer..
Thy love, which makes my cup run o'er,.
And soothes my burden'd breast,.
Shall guide me till I reach the shore.
Of everlasting rest..

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