Hymns that Mary Baker Eddy “particularly loved”

A note by Mary Baker Eddy in her copy of the Christian Science Hymnal, c. 1898. B00142.

A note by Mary Baker Eddy in her copy of the Christian Science Hymnal, c. 1898. B00142.
Courtesy of The Mary Baker Eddy. Library.

“Clear and sweet.” That’s how Delia Manley described Mary Baker Eddy’s singing voice during Asa Gilbert Eddy’s funeral on June 5, 1882. Her husband Asa (or “Gilbert,” as he was affectionately known) had been her stalwart supporter for the five years since their marriage on January 1, 1877. The hymn Eddy was singing was “Nearer, My God, to Thee.” According to Manley, she “seemed uplifted above the sense of death.”1

Eddy and Manley also sang “I Need Thee Every Hour.” This American gospel hymn includes these lyrics:

I need Thee every hour,
Most gracious Lord
No tender voice like Thine
Can peace afford.

It was written ten years earlier, in 1872, by hymnist Annie Hawks. Eddy had picked it for the service. She wrote in her personal copy of the 1898 Christian Science Hymnal, “I had this Hymn sung at the funeral of my husband Asa G. Eddy.”2

“I Need Thee Every Hour” alongside a setting of Eddy’s poem, “‘Feed My Sheep’,” in Eddy’s copy of the Hymnal, c. 1898. B00142.

“I Need Thee Every Hour” alongside a setting of Eddy’s poem, “‘Feed My Sheep’,” in Eddy’s copy of the Hymnal, c. 1898. B00142.
Courtesy of The Mary Baker Eddy Library.

In the 1898 Hymnal, Jesus’ words “Without Me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5) are under the title of this hymn which also includes this verse:

I need Thee ev’ry hour,
In joy or pain;
Come quickly and abide,
Or life is vain.

“I Need Thee Every Hour” is in the 1932 Christian Science Hymnal. Eddy first requested it for the 1898 Hymnal, along with other hymns all written by female hymnists: “When the Mists Have Rolled Away” (Annie Herbert Barker, 1883),  “O, the Clanging Bells of Time” (Ellen M. H. Gates, 1895)  and “I’m a Pilgrim, and I’m a Stranger” (Mary Dana Schindler, 1841).3  It is interesting to note that all of these hymns were written during Mary Baker Eddy’s lifetime. The earliest hymn on this list, “I’m a Pilgrim, and I’m a Stranger,” was first published when she was 20.

“When the Mists Have Rolled Away,” as it was first published in Gospel Hymns, No. 5, c. 1887.”
Courtesy of The Mary Baker Eddy Library.

The Library’s collections give other instances where Eddy found delight in certain hymns.  In 1882, Eddy referred to hearing “When the Mists Have Rolled Away” during a trip to Philadelphia with Gilbert. She wrote, “O! I love it, my tears dim my eyes, as they sing, with joy, with a sense of the beauty and truth of those words of that song.”4

Bliss Knapp’s reminiscence recounts an experience in August 1888, where she was inspired by “Joy Cometh in the Morning,” first published just the year before. Knapp wrote this in 1941:

 

The cover of Eddy’s copy of the Christian Science Hymnal, c. 1898. B00142. Courtesy of The Mary Baker Eddy Library.

The cover of Eddy’s copy of the Christian Science Hymnal, c. 1898. B00142.
Courtesy of The Mary Baker Eddy Library.

[Eddy] had been awake all night in prayer over some problem and had not gained her peace with the coming of dawn. Just before breakfast, my sister sat down at the organ and began to play and sing that old gospel hymn “Joy cometh in the morning.” My father, who was a member of the local church choir, joined in the singing, and they sang with such spirit that Mrs. Eddy came out of her room with a radiant face; the song had brought her refreshment and an answer to her prayers. … Part of that hymn is now included in our Christian Science Hymnal as Hymn No. 425.5

 

Irving C. Tomlinson also recorded Eddy’s love of Christian music: “At Chestnut Hill, after the early morning duties were cared for, members of her household would be invited into the pink room for a service of song. Mrs. Eddy loved the familiar gospel hymns, and I well remember the sweet quality of her voice.”6  Like Delia Manley, Tomlinson was impressed with Eddy’s singing voice, which “frequently…could be heard joining in some hymn she particularly loved.”7

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  1. Delia S. Manley, n.d. Reminiscence, Delia S. Manley, 11.
  2. Christian Science Hymnal, 1898, B00142, 220.
  3. Mary Baker Eddy to Students, 24 August 1897, L02835A & L02835B.
  4. Mary Baker Eddy to Eldridge J. Smith and Melinda H. Smith, 29 March 1882, L02056.
  5. Bliss Knapp, “Impressions of Our Leader,” in We Knew Mary Baker Eddy, Expanded Edition, Volume I (Boston: The Christian Science Publishing Society, 2011), 226.
  6. Irving C. Tomlinson, Twelve Years with Mary Baker Eddy, Amplified Edition (Boston: The Christian Science Publishing Society, 1994), 216-217.
  7. Ibid., 274.