Saturday, 3 January 2015

Morris Williams

Morris Williams was an Anglican clergyman and a poet commonly known as Nicander.  He was born in August 1809 and died on 3rd January 1874.  He began to write poetry and so was encouraged to an education.  He was then ordained deacon by the Bishop of Chester in 1835 and priest by the Bishop of St. Asaph in 1836.  In 1840 he married Ann Jones of Denbigh and they had five daughters and three sons.

He assisted with the Welsh revision of the Book of Common Prayer and took an active part in Welsh literary life.  He both adjudicated and competed at the National Eisteddfod and his writing included frequent contributions to Welsh magazines, translating Aesop's Fables into Welsh, and composing a number of hymns.  He was one of the pioneers of the Oxford Movement in the Diocese of Bangor and is commemorated by a marble pulpit dedicated to him in Bangor Cathedral.

His hymns had a profound effect on the spiritual lives of many in Wales.  He wrote, for example, of God’s grace and the need for the Spirit to nourish us.

As one of his hymns says (in an English translation by Naomi Starkey):
With the life-giving rain of your Holy Spirit
You refresh the Church, your vineyard,
Until its blooms are many and fair,
And its fruits like the garden of paradise.

Where do we see the Holy Spirit refreshing our churches?  What effect is that having?  Who are the people who inspire us today?

Sources: – Dictionary of Welsh Biography

Rachel Boulding: “Companions on the Bethlehem Road”

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