Carolyn Wood’s Devotional – September 17, 2021
“PRAISE THE LORD! YE HEAVENS ADORE HIM” – 1796
Sing praise to the LORD, you saints of His, And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name. Psalm 30:4
One of Christianity’s legacies is its concern for the fatherless. The Bible tells us forty-four times that God regards the plight of the orphans, and that we should do the same. But in seventeenth-century England, little was being done. It was commonplace to see babies left on the doorsteps or abandoned in latrines. London had its fashionable spots, but much of the city
was gripped by poverty and disease with thousands living atop one another in mucky slums.
Captain Thomas Coram (1668-1751), a devout Anglican and friend of the Wesleys, determined to do something. Coram, (who wasn’t really a captain, the title was honorary), was a trader on the high seas who had been sent by a group of merchants to set up the first shipyard in Massachusetts. Returning to London after ten years in the colonies, he was shocked to learn that London had become a city of abandoned babies. “Left to die on dung heaps,” he complained to anyone who would listen.
Not being a wealthy man, Coram approached the rich men of London, soliciting donations for a hospital and orphanage for “foundlings” (infants found on the streets). No one would help. “I could no more prevail with them than if I had asked them to pull down their breeches and present their backsides to the King and Queen,” he wrote in disgust.
But when he appealed to the wives of London’s wealthy men, he found a responsive audience. Finally, the charter was granted, the funds procured, and the Foundling hospital opened in 1741. On its first night, hundreds of desperate women gathered at its doors, each with a child in her arms.
Soon London’s artists threw their support behind the project, filling the institution with their paintings and music. The great composer George Handel gave benefit performances of his Messiah to help raise funds. The London Foundling Hospital became known for its beautiful singing and children’s choirs.
In 1796, Coram published a hymnbook entitled Psalms, Hymns and Anthems of the Foundling Hospital, London. Pasted into the cover of this book was an anonymous hymn entitled “Praise the Lord! Ye Heavens Adore Him.” To this day, no one knows who wrote it, but it will forever be associated with God’s love for children and His concern for the fatherless.
Grace, Peace and Joy to you today and always! Carolyn Wood