Hymn #516: O Grant Us, God, a Little Space

John Ellerton (1826-1893) wrote this hymn for use at a midday service in a city church in London, England.  This is one of the first hymns to recognize science and art as part of God’s creation and work.  The text was first published in Church Hymns (1870).

John Ellerton was born in London, England, on December 16, 1826.  Ordained to priesthood in the Church of England in 1850, he served various parishes.  In addition, he wrote literature and hymns, edited hymnals, and worked for various welfare programs.  He died at Torquay, England, on June 15, 1893.

This melody by Thomas Este, WINCHESTER OLD, first appeared in his Whole Booke of Psalms (1592), where it was a setting for Psalm 84 and was harmonized by George Kirbye.  The tune may be derived from Christopher Tye’s Actes of the Apostles (1553), four-part settings of the early chapters of Acts.

Thomas Este’s The Whole Booke of Psalms (1592) contained many “short tunes,” meaning they consisted of four lines rather than the usual eight.  In addition, this was the first hymnal to provide names for tunes and to present music in full score.