Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin?

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Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin?

Author: Edward Henry Bickersteth
Published in 379 hymnals

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Representative Text

1 Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin?
The blood of Jesus whispers peace within.

2 Peace, perfect peace, by thronging duties pressed?
To do the will of Jesus, this is rest.

3 Peace, perfect peace, death shadowing us and ours?
Jesus has vanquished death and all its powers.

4 Peace, perfect peace, our future all unknown?
Jesus we know, and he is on the throne.

5 It is enough: earth's struggles soon shall cease,
and Jesus call to heaven's perfect peace.

Source: Ancient and Modern: hymns and songs for refreshing worship #764

Author: Edward Henry Bickersteth

Bickersteth, Edward Henry, D.D., son of Edward Bickersteth, Sr. born at Islington, Jan. 1825, and educated at Trinity College, Cambridge (B.A. with honours, 1847; M.A., 1850). On taking Holy Orders in 1848, he became curate of Banningham, Norfolk, and then of Christ Church, Tunbridge Wells. His preferment to the Rectory of Hinton-Martell, in 1852, was followed by that of the Vicarage of Christ Church, Hampstead, 1855. In 1885 he became Dean of Gloucester, and the same year Bishop of Exeter. Bishop Bickersteth's works, chiefly poetical, are:— (l) Poems, 1849; (2) Water from the Well-spring, 1852; (3) The Rock of Ages, 1858 ; (4) Commentary on the New Testament, 1864; (5) Yesterday, To-day, and For Ever, 1867; (6) The Spirit of Life, 1868;… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin?
Author: Edward Henry Bickersteth
Meter: 10.10
Source: Efel. Dyfed.
Language: English
Notes: Spanish translations: See "Perfecta paz, que brota de la cruz"; "Paz, dulce paz, que viene de la cruz" by Pedro Cruz; Paz, dulce paz, que brota de la cruz"; German translations: See "In der welt der Sünde" by Heinrich Rickers; "Friede im Herrn"
Copyright: Public Domain


Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin, p. 888, i. Bishop Bickersteth's son, the Rev. S. Bickersteth, D.D., Vicar of Leeds, has kindly furnished us with the following history of this hymn:—

“This hymn was written by Bishop Edward Henry Bickersteth, D.D., while he was spending his summer holiday in Harrogate in the year 1875, in a house facing the Stray, lent to him by his friend Mr. Armitage, then Vicar of Casterton.
"On a Sunday morning in August, the Vicar of Harrogate, Canon Gibbon, happened to preach from the text, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee," and alluded to the fact that in the Hebrew the words are "Peace, peace," twice repeated, and happily translated in the 1611 translation by the phrase, “Perfect peace." This sermon set my father's mind working on the subject. He always found it easiest to express in verse whatever subject was upper¬most in his mind, so that when on the afternoon of that Sunday he visited an aged and dying relative, Archdeacon Hill of Liverpool, and found him somewhat troubled in mind, it was natural to him to express in verse the spiritual comfort which he desired to convey. Taking up a sheet of paper he then and there wrote down the hymn just exactly as it stands, and read it to this dying Christian.
I was with my father at the time, being home from school for the summer holidays, and I well recollect his coming in to tea, a meal which we always had with him on Sunday afternoons, and saying, "Children, I have written you & hymn," and reading us "Peace, perfect peace," in which, from the moment that he wrote it, he never made any alteration.
"I may add that it was his invariable custom to expect each one of us on Sundays at tea to repeat a hymn, and he did the same, unless, as frequently happened, he wrote us a special hymn himself, in which way many of his hymns were first given to the Church.
"It is not always noticed that the first line in each verse of "Peace, perfect peace," is in the form of a question referring to someone or other of the disturbing experiences of life, and the second line in each verse endeavours to give the answer. Some years later than 1875 an invalid wrote to my father pointing out that he had not met the case of sickness, which induced him to write two lines which appropriately can be added, but which he himself never printed in his own hymn-book, so that I do not know how far he would wish them to be considered part of the hymn.
“The hymn has been translated into many tongues; and for years I doubt if my father went many days without receiving from different people assurances of the comfort which the words had been allowed to bring to them. The most touching occasion on which, personally, I ever heard it sung was round the grave of my eldest brother, Bishop Edward Bickersteth (of South Tokyo), at Chiselden, in 1897, when my father was chief mourner."

This unusually interesting account of this widely used hymn will be of permanent interest to lovers of this lyric, and will set at rest all speculations as to its origin and design.

--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology, New Supplement (1907)



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