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Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Discover & explore: George Croly

Yesterday's Discover & explore service at St Stephen Walbrook, explored poetry through the writings of George Croly. The service featured the Choral Scholars of St Martin-in-the-Fields singing Why fumeth in fight by Tallis, La blanche neige by Poulenc, My soul there is a country by Parry and My lovely one by Finzi. We also sang Spirit of God, who dwells within my heart and Lord, who hast sought us out, unsought, both written by Croly.

The next Discover & explore service is on Monday 27 February at 1.10pm when, together with the Choral Scholars, I will explore the theme of insurance through the life of George Griffin Stonestreet.

The Irish poet, novelist, historian and Anglican priest, George Croly, was rector of St Stephen Walbrook from 1835 until his death in 1860. Croly’s writing ranged across theatre, poetry, reviews, politics and theology. From 1810 he had a career in London as a reviewer and journalist with The Times and Blackwood's Magazine, among other. His best known works novels include Salathiel and Marston. His main contribution to theology was an exposition of the Apocalypse. His hymns included Spirit of God, descend upon my heart, written in 1854:

Spirit of God, descend upon my heart,
wean it from earth, through all its pulses move;
stoop to my weakness, mighty as thou art,
and make me love thee as I ought to love.

Charlotte and Anne Brontë visited St Stephen's Walbrook, on their first visit to London, hoping to hear Croly preach, as he was by then a famous author and cleric. Unfortunately, he was absent that Sunday. Croly was buried at St Stephen Walbrook and memorials to him, his wife, daughter and eldest son can found here.

Our service included the reading of Croly's poem 'The Trumpet shall sound'

Be still, be still, impatient soul, rest, weary mourner, rest;
The trump shall sound, the thunder roll, and heaving earth’s cold breast
Call from their stern and silent bed, the millions of the ransomed dead.
The hour is coming, when the sun at once shall pass away:
Eclipsed before a mightier one, the light of Heaven’s pure day;
A splendour, high above all height, sun of a morn that knows no night.
Yet, ere that hour, Almighty King, thy vials shall be poured;
Famine the heart of nations wring, and death unsheathe the sword;
And thrones, to flee that hour of doom, call to the mountains and the tomb.
Lord, like thine angels make us here a spirit and a flame;
Teach us, in holy faith and fear, to triumph in thy name.
Cling to the cross, and plead thy love, and join thee with thy saints above.


George Croly - Spirit Of God, Descend Upon My Heart.

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