William W. How (1823-1897) Was called both the “poor man’s bishop” and “the children’s bishop,” He was known for his work among the destitute in the London slums and among the factory workers in west Yorkshire. He wrote a number of theological works about controversies surrounding the Oxford Movement and while rector in Whittington, attempted to reconcile biblical creation with the theory of evolution. How wrote some sixty hymns, including many for children. His collected Poems and Hymns were published in 1886.
Today is All Saints Day – a day set aside to honor those who have passed on into heaven. It’s interesting to me that on All Hallows Eve, 1517, Martin Luther – the reformer – chose to nail his list of 95 theses to the castle church in Wittenburg, Germany. The list contained issues he had with the Catholic church of his time. The church had become corrupt. The truth of the Gospel had been hidden from the people and they felt compelled to buy their way into heaven – not realizing that this was a gift from God. I imagine Martin had been thinking about this for quite some time. He was a monk in the church and in searching through the scriptures, he discovered the truth of God’s grace. His inability to do enough to earn his salvation haunted him for many years. He prayed incessantly, confessed his sins daily, often ranting on and on for hours concerning each of his indiscretions. His guilt was oppressive. When his eyes were finally opened to the truth, he couldn’t help himself. He had to share that knowledge with everyone. So, he chose to oppose the church and post his list of grievances. This was also the time of the Renaissance; the invention of the printing press and many more innovations. All of these things made it possible to spread the word throughout the land.
As we celebrate this All Saints Day, let’s remember those who are waiting for our arrival in heaven. They are enjoying the benefits of being heirs of God as we will also when our final breath is drawn. Let us also pray for the church today – that the truth and purity of God’s Holy Word to us remains the same.
For all the saints, who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest—
Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress, and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well-fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light—
Oh, may Thy soldiers, faithful, true, and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
And win with them the victor’s crown of gold—
And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave again, and arms are strong—
From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
Singing to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost—