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Alfred H. Miles, ed. The Sacred Poets of the Nineteenth Century. 1907.

By Critical and Biographical Essay by Alfred H. Miles

Christopher Wordsworth (1807–1885)

CHRISTOPHER WORDSWORTH, nephew of William Wordsworth, the father of the poetry of the nineteenth century, was born at Lambeth on the 30th of October, 1807. His father, also Christopher Wordsworth, was at that time Rector of Lambeth, and afterwards Master of Trinity College, Cambridge. Christopher, who was his youngest son, was educated at Winchester and Trinity College, and his career, both at school and at the University, was a brilliant one. He carried off many prizes, graduated as Senior Classic in the Classical Tripos, and 14th Senior Optime in the Mathematical in 1830, and was elected a Fellow of Trinity. He became a Classical Lecturer, and in 1836 Public Orator for the University, and Headmaster of Harrow School. In 1844 he was appointed to a Canonry at Westminster, in 1848–9 to the Hulsean lectureship at Cambridge. In 1850 he accepted the living of Stamford-in-the-Vale-cum-Grosey in Berkshire, and devoted himself assiduously to parochial work for nineteen years. In 1869 he was elevated to the Bishopric of Lincoln, an office which he continued to hold for fifteen years. He died on the 20th of March, 1885.

Christopher Wordsworth was a voluminous writer upon classical and ecclesiastical subjects, and among other works of a more general character wrote the “Memoirs of William Wordsworth” (his Uncle), published in 1851, and “A Commentary on the whole Bible” (1856–70). In the “Holy Year,” published in 1862, he wrote hymns for all the Christian seasons, dealing with the many phases of the various seasons as enumerated in the Book of Common Prayer. The value of hymns as a means of teaching and impressing on the memory Christian doctrines was recognised by him, and he wrote them avowedly for the purpose of inculcating religious truth, with the result that poetic excellence was often lost in the pursuit of a didactic aim. Some of his hymns, however, are of high excellence, and some have become widely popular. Among the more successful, as well as the better known of these are “O Day of Rest and Gladness,” “Hark the sound of Holy Voices,” “Gracious Spirit, Holy Ghost,” and “See the Conqueror mounts in Triumph,” the first three of which are given here.