1820–1887

Introduction

portrait

Born: Ju­ly 15, 1820, Cu­by with Tre­go­ny, Cornwall.

Died: March 21, 1887, Bath, Eng­land.

Buried: St. Ma­ry’s church­yard, Bath­wick, Som­er­set, Eng­land.

illustration
Church of St. Cuby Tregony

Biography

Educated for the le­gal pro­fes­sion, Gur­ney was called to the bar at the Mid­dle Tem­ple, but the Bi­shop of Exeter or­dained him a dea­con in 1849, and priest in 1850.

He was ap­point­ed one of the Bod­lei­an Lec­tur­ers at Ex­e­ter, and in March 1852, be­came cur­ate of St. Ma­ry, Crown Street, So­ho Square, Lon­don. He al­so served as cur­ate of Buck­ing­ham (1854–58) and chap­lain of the Eng­lish con­gre­ga­tion, Cour des Coches, Pa­ris (1858–71).

Publications

Poem

The Festival of Nineveh

’Tis the morn, and westward lowering
Move the doubtful shades of night,
While the cold north breeze seems cowering,
As it shuns the dawning bright—
In their gambols, fresh and gay,
Softer morning zephyrs play;
Spectral shades they chase away,
And hail the rising orb of day.

In the city, vast and deep,
Millions rouse them from their sleep,
Some from visionless repose,
Some from dreams of mystic woes.
Monarch, priest, and maiden fair,
For the festival prepare;
Some in tears, and some in glee;
For day hath dawned o’er Nineveh!

’Tis the sultry midday hour!
Sweetest flower and offerings bring,
For, in gorgeous pomp and power,
From his palace sweeps the king.
Wily priests, and courtiers vain,
Swell the pompous regal train:
Up the temple steps they go,
Where the powers of darkness reign:
Swarming myriads below
Gaze upon the lofty fane—
And, by pain of death deterred,
Not a sound escapes the crowd:
Even on high the distant bird
Stays its carol shrill and loud—
Nought but the choral chant is heard,
And all before their Bel are bowed.

Hark! Who speaks? It cannot be!
None could dare to break upon
Such a dark and awful mystery.
See the royal train moves on—
Yet! Again? ’Tis he! ’Tis he!
’Tis the prophet of the Lord,
The bearer of His fiery sword—
His crimson garment wide is spread,
He speaks in tones might wake the dead—

Jehovah, Lord of Heaven and earth,
Who gave you, atoms, life and birth,
Maker of all ye hear and see,
And Monarch of Eternity,
Thus to the proud Assyrian says,
Thy reign is o’er, and told thy days:
And yet, ere forty times the sun
His royal course hath o’er thee run,
The worm shall be thine only mate,
And all thy dwellings desolate!

He spoke, and coldly blew the blast;
A tempest cloud its shadow cast,
And o’er the sun a vapor passed.

And they believed that prophet’s word,
And sought the pardon of the Lord.
His red right arm already was unbared,
And yet, the God of Mercy heard, and spared.

Archer Thompson Gurney
Poems, Spring, 1853

Sources

Lyrics

Music

Help Needed

If you know where to get Gur­ney’s photo (head-and-shoul­ders, at least 200x300 pix­els), would you send us an e-mail?