Friday, October 16, 2009

Matilda Betham-Edwards (1836-1919)

Matilda Betham-Edwards (1836-1919), English poet, novelist and Francophile is being rediscovered through such works as a recent biography by Joan Rees, Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Birmingham. 'A Child's Hymn' by her, which begins, "God make my life a little light" is enormously popular in the West (its traditional melody is offered at Cyberhymnal), and it happens to be equally popular, perhaps more, in Pakistan where its Urdu adaptation by Iqbal has been the most popular recital at schools for four generations: "Lab pay aati hai dua bun kay tamanna meri."

A Child’s Hymn

God make my life a little light,
within the world to glow,
A little flame that burneth bright,
wherever I may go.

God make my life a little flower
that giveth joy to all,
Content to bloom in native bower,
although the place be small.

God make my life a little song,
that comforteth the sad,
That helpeth others to be strong,
and maketh the singer glad.

God make my life a little staff,
whereon the weak may rest,
That so what health and strength I have,
may serve my neighbours best.

God make my life a little hymn
of tenderness and praise,
Of faith that never waneth dim,
in all his wondrous ways.

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