The 200th anniversary of the birth of Anglican hymn writer Cecil Frances Alexander was celebrated with a themed praise evening in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, on Sunday (10 March). During her lifetime, she wrote almost 400 popular hymns, including All Things Bright and Beautiful, There Is a Green Hill Far Away, Once in Royal David’s City, and I bind unto myself today (Saint Patrick’s Breastplate).
Mrs Alexander was born in April 1818. She married an Anglican priest, William Alexander, who later became Bishop of Derry and Raphoe and then, after then death of Mrs Alexander, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland. Sunday’s service took place in Clogher diocese’s St Macartin’s Cathedral in Enniskillen. The evening of praise was the culmination of a weekend of commemorations in the cathedral, which included an exhibition organised by the diocese’s Board of Religious Education.
The exhibition included items on loan from St Columb’s Cathedral in Londonderry and St Bestius’ Parish Church, Killeter. They covered Mrs Alexander’s life from her birth in Dublin until her death in Derry in October 1895 at the age of 77.
The exhibition featured letters, manuscripts and photographs of family members and places where the Alexanders lived during their life together serving in the Church of Ireland. The exhibition attracted people from all over Ireland including some distant descendants of the Alexanders.
The praise evening included narration of Mrs Alexander’s life story interspersed with the singing of almost a dozen of her well-known hymns. During one section of the story, Rebekah Clingan dressed as Mrs Alexander and walked along the aisle to show people how she would have dressed in the 1800s.
Taking part in the service were members of St Macartin’s Cathedral Choir as well as the GFS (Girl’s Friendly Society) Clogher Diocesan choir, which included the GFS All-Ireland President, Alison Jackson.
Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS), March 13, 2019