I want to finish my blog mini-series on hymns with a little-known story about a little-known hymnist and a little-known but lovely hymn. (Check out Then Sings My Soul for stories behind better-known hymns).
The hymnist is Dr. H. W. Farrington, and I’ve found two interesting notices in the New York Times Archives regarding him. The first is dated July 3, 1930:
FALL HURTS DR. FARRINGTON
WAR POET AND LECTURER DROPS 15 FEET WHEN PROCH RAIL BREAKS
The Rev. Dr. Harry Webb Farrington, 49 years old, lecturer and traveler, was in a serious condition at the… hospital, tonight, as the result of a fall from a second-story porch this morning. A rail against which he was leaning gave way, and he fell fifteen feet to a concrete walk.
Still conscious, he was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. His skull may be fractured and he suffered injuries of the back….
Mr. Farrington is widely known as the author of a book of war poems, published in 1921, and other writings. He was an ambulance driver in the French Army during the World War, and since that time has lectured widely.
Several months later, his obituary appeared in the Times, dated October 27, 1930.
DR. H. W. FARRINGTON DIES OF INJURIES
MINISTER, POET, AND LECTURER VICTIM OF TWO-STORY FALL FROM PORCH
The Rev. Harry Webb Farrington… Methodist minister and a poet and lecturer, who is said to have addressed more than 2,500,000 school children throughout the United States, died on Saturday night at the Methodist Episcopal Hospital, Brooklyn, from injuries he received on July 2, when he fell from a porch at Ocean Grove, N.J. He was 50 years old.
Mr. Farrington was spending the summer at Ocean Grove with Mrs. Farrington at the time of the accident. He fell two stories to the ground when the guard rail of the porch on which he as leaning gave way. His back was severely injured….
Born on July 14, 1880, at Nassau, British West Indies, Mr. Farrington was thrown on his own resources early in life, as his mother died during his infancy. He worked his way through school….
In 1918, Mr. Farrington went to France as a Red Circle secretary, and received from the French Army an honorary commission…in recognition of his organization of athletic sports…
He was the author of a book of war poems and other writings in prose and verse, and wrote the Harvard prize hymn, “Dear Lord, Who Sought at Dawn of Day.” During last summer, he completed the story of his life, which will be published in book form next month…
Harry W. Farrington’s hymns, which aren’t well known by many people today, include a delightfully simple, three-verse summary of the life of Christ entitled “I Know Not How that Bethlehem’s Babe.” It can be sung to the tune “Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee.”
I know not how that Bethlehem’s Babe
Could in the Godhead be;
I only know the manger Child
Has brought God’s life to me.
I know not how that Calvary’s cross
A world from sin could free;
I only know its matchless love
Has brought God’s love to me.
I know not how that Joseph’s tomb
Could solve death’s mystery;
I only know a living Christ,