An interesting baptismal hymn today, which I share in this month of the Sacred Heart on account of the author’s unconventional reference, insofar as mainstream Anglican hymnody is concerned, to the Lord's Heart in the second verse.
C.E. Riley, who was born in Liverpool, England, was an Anglican clergyman who went on to become the second Dean of Toronto and Rector of St James’ Cathedral from 1937 to 1961. Overall, the hymn, written in 1938, reflects a mixture of sound theology and straightforward prose, with a gentle Catholic emphasis, generally reflective of Canadian Anglicanism of the era, as can be seen throughout the compilation of hymns that make up the very fine hymnal known as The Book of Common Praise.
To the tune Shipston
Jesu, Son of blessèd Mary,
Once on earth a little child,
Pattern fair of holy living,
Gracious, loving, undefiled.
Though thy sacred heart was yearning
Heavy-laden souls to free,
Yet thou calledst little children
In their happiness to thee.
Thy dear kingdom still they enter
Through this Sacrament of grace;
In thy loving arms enfold them;
Hands of blessing on them place.
From the power of sin delivered
May they learn to live for GOD;
Guided by thy HOLY SPIRIT,
Nourished with the living WORD.
Grant that we, like little children,
Free from pride and guile may be;
Cheerful, trusting, safe, protected
By the Blessèd TRINITY.
Charles Edward Riley, 1883-1971
No. 254 in the Book of Common Praise:
being the Hymn Book of the Church of England in Canada (Revised 1938)
Fr Lee Kenyon