Sunday, December 13, 2020

There’s a song in the air

Josiah Gilbert Holland wrote the hymn beginning with the first line “There’s a song in the air.” “There’s a song in the air” excellently expresses a childlike simplicity and joy regarding the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. It seems best considered as meter It was set to music in Christmas Song by Karl P. Harrington in 1904.

Holland was born in Belchertown, Massachusetts July 24, 1819. He served on the staff of the Springfield Republican newspaper, under Editor Samuel Bowles. He wrote numerous essays under the pseudonym Timothy Titcomb. In 1870, he became editor of Scribner’s Magazine. He wrote several poems, as well as a biography of Abraham Lincoln. “For summer’s bloom, and autumn’s blight” is among his well-known works (from Bitter-Sweet). Holland married Elizabeth L Chapin. He perhaps was a Unitarian. Henry Foote Wilder lists him in American Unitarian Hymn Writers and Hymns.[i] Josiah Holland died October 12, 1881 in New York City, New York. He is buried in the Springfield Cemetery in Springfield, Hampden County, Massachusetts.

1. There’s a song in the air!
There’s a star in the sky!
There’s a mother’s deep prayer
And a baby’s low cry!
And the star rains its fire while the beautiful sing,
For the manger of Bethlehem cradles a King!

2. There’s a tumult of joy 
O’er the wonderful birth, 
For the virgin’s sweet boy 
Is the Lord of the earth. 
Ay! the star rains its fire while the beautiful sing, 
For the manger of Bethlehem cradles a King!

3. In the light of that star 
Lie the ages impearled; 
And that song from afar 
Has swept over the world. 
Every hearth is aflame, and the beautiful sing 
In the homes of the nations that Jesus is King!

4. We rejoice in the light, 
And we echo the song 
That comes down through the night
 From the heavenly throng. 
Ay! we shout to the lovely evangel they bring, 
And we greet in his cradle our Savior and King! credits the following to Josiah Gilbert Holland:

“Joys divided are increased.”

[i] Whether because he was a Unitarian or because “For summer’s bloom, and autumn’s blight” is included in the Unitarian Hymn and Tune Book for Church and Home (Boston, MA: 1868) is not clear to me.

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