It always interests me that in so many things there is a really fascinating story behind the headlines. This must go for so much that we come across in life and yet we rarely know the whole story - quite often it dies out in one generation.
I was reading Ronald Blyth this morning and I read the skeleton of this story, which I found quite fascinating, so I looked up various things to present to you.
Samuel Crossman was a young curate in 1660 and took a job as rector in the village of Little Henny on the Suffolk/Essex border. Sadly he did not get on with his parishioners at all and they threw him out (it seems to have been quite a common occurrence in those days). Crossman fancied himself as a bit of a poet and was greatly influenced by the poetry of George Herbert. One of Herbert's poems that Crossman particularly liked was one called "Love Unknown."
After leaving the village Crossman wrote some poetry and had it published in a little booklet called "The Young Man's Meditation." One of the poems he wrote was what has since become a well known hymn:-
My song is love unknown,
my Saviour's love to me,
love to the loveless shown
that they might lovely be.
But who am I,
that for my sake
my Lord should take frail flesh and die?
This little book faded into obscurity until just after the 1914-1918 war when the English Hymnal was being edited. Then Geoffrey Shaw came across this poem and liked it very much.
He went out to lunch with the composer John Ireland and during the meal he passed this verse over to Ireland, written on a slip of paper. He asked him what he thought to it and whether he thought it could be set to music. There and then, at the table, on a napkin, Ireland sketched out the tune for the verse and handed it back to Shaw.
This has now become a favourite hymn for so many people. I wonder how many know the background to it. I have a feeling that the tune may well be called "Little Henny" but I can't be sure. But isn't it a lovely story?