Sunday, July 14, 2019

Peace, perfect peace

Edward Henry Bickersteth, Jr. wrote the following interesting poem. Each stanza, except the last, in the first line asks a question about peace, and the second line answers the question. He was son of Edward Bickersteth, Sr. He was born at Islington, January 1825. He was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge. Bickersteth served a Vicar of Christ Church in Hampstead from 1855-1885, and as Bishop of Exeter from 1885-1900. He died March 15, 1906 at age 81. He and his wife Rosa Bignold Bickersteth are buried at the Exeter Cathedral in Exeter, Devon, England.

1. Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin?
The blood of Jesus whispers peace within.

2. Peace, perfect peace, by thronging duties press’d?
To do the will of Jesus, this is rest.

3. Peace, perfect peace, with sorrows surging round?
On Jesus’ bosom naught but calm is found.

4. Peace, perfect peace, with loved ones far away?
In Jesus’ keeping we are safe and they.

5. Peace, perfect peace, our future all unknown?
Jesus we know, and He is on the throne.

6. Peace, perfect peace, death shadowing us and ours?
Jesus has vanquish’d death and all its powers.

7. It is enough: earth’s struggles soon shall cease,
And Jesus calls us to Heav’n’s perfect peace.

Some versions include the following as the fourth stanza:

4. Peace, perfect peace, ’mid suffering’s sharpest throes?
The sympathy of Jesus breathes repose.

The words are usually, if not always, set to the tune Pax Tecum [i] No. 280, page 341 in The Hymnal Companion to the Book of Common Prayer: with Accompanying Tunes (London: Sampson Low, Marston & Company, 1890).

[i] Latin meaning “peace be with you” or “may peace be with you.”

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