Where cross the crowded ways of life

Representative Text

1 Where cross the crowded ways of life,
where sound the cries of race and clan,
above the noise of selfish strife,
we hear your voice, O Son of Man.

2 In haunts of wretchedness and need,
on shadowed thresholds fraught with fears,
from paths where hide the lures of greed,
we catch the vision of your tears.

3 From tender childhood's helplessness,
from human grief and burdened toil,
from famished souls, from sorrow's stress,
your heart has never known recoil.

4 The cup of water given for you
still holds the freshness of your grace;
yet long these multitudes to view
the sweet compassion of your face.

5 O Master, from the mountainside,
make haste to heal these hearts of pain;
among these restless throngs abide;
O tread the city's streets again;

6 Till all the world shall learn your love,
and follow where your feet have trod;
till glorious from your heaven above
shall come the city of our God.

Source: Glory to God: the Presbyterian Hymnal #343

Author: Frank Mason North

North, Frank Mason, D.D., b. at New York, Dec. 3, 1850, graduated at Wesleyan University 1872, and entered the ministry of the Methodist Episcopal Church 1872. In 1892 he became Correspondence Secretary of the New York City Church Extension and Missionary Society, and is now (1905) editor of The Christian City. His hymns in common use include:— 1. Jesus, the calm that fills my breast. [Peace.] In The Plymouth Hymnal,1894; Sursum Corda, 1898; The Methodist Hymnal, 1905, &c. 2. When cross the crowded ways of life. [City Missions.] In The Methodist Hymnal, 1905. [Rev. L. F. Benson, D.D.] --John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology, New Supplement (1907)… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: Where cross the crowded ways of life
Author: Frank Mason North (1905)
Meter: 8.8.8.8
Language: English
Notes: Spanish translation: See "Entre el vaivén de la ciudad" by Anonymous
Copyright: Public Domain

Notes

Scripture References:
st. 1 = Matt. 9:36
st. 2 = Luke 19:41-42
st. 3 = Matt. 10:42, Mark 9:41
st. 5 = Rev. 21:2-4

Caleb T. Winchester, an editor of the 1905 Methodist Hymnal, challenged Frank M. North (b. Lower Manhattan, New York, 1850; d. Madison, NJ, 1935) to write a hymn text on city missions. North had intimate knowledge of urban life because of his work for the Methodist Church in New York City. Inspired by Jesus' words "Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find" (Matt. 22:9), North wrote "Where Cross the Crowded Ways." After making various revisions and adding a title ("A Prayer for the Multitudes"), he published the text in The Christian City (June 1903), a missions journal he edited. The text was also published in the 1905 Methodist Hymnal and in many other twentieth-century hymnbooks. Modern hymnals have changed the original "thous" and "thees" to "yous."

One of the earliest and finest modern "city hymns," this text focuses on the ills of our great urban centers (and ignores their benefits) with the insight and compassion of a Christian worker in the city slums. North's descriptive phrases may have been startling at the turn of the century, but they are even more accurate descriptions of the massive cities in our world today. His prescription to follow in the footsteps of Christ and bring the gospel in word and deed is relevant as long as the Lord delays in bringing the New Jerusalem.

Primarily a churchman, North devoted himself to loyal service in the Methodist denomination and to various ecumenical ventures. He was educated at Wesleyan University, Middleton, Connecticut, and ordained in the Methodist Church in 1872. A minister in several churches in Florida, New York, and Connecticut, he also held administrative positions-secretary of the New York Church Extension and Missionary Society (1892-1912) and secretary of the Board of Foreign Missions of the Methodist Church (1912-1924). He was involved with the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America (forerunner of the National Council of Churches) and was the council's president from 1916-1920. Editor of the periodical Christian City, North was active in many organizations that promoted and carried out Christian ministries in urban life. North contributed hymns to Sursum Corda (1898) and the Methodist Hymnal (1905) and was a charter member of the Hymn Society, which republished his eight hymns in a booklet in 1970.

Liturgical Use:
For urban ministries and other occasions that emphasize missions and diaconal work.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook, 1987

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