John M. Neale's life is a study in contrasts: born into an evangelical home, he had sympathies toward Rome; in perpetual ill health, he was incredibly productive; of scholarly temperament, he devoted much time to improving social conditions in his area; often ignored or despised by his contemporaries, he is lauded today for his contributions to the church and hymnody. Neale's gifts came to expression early–he won the Seatonian prize for religious poetry eleven times while a student at Trinity College, Cambridge, England. He was ordained in the Church of England in 1842, but ill health and his strong support of the Oxford Movement kept him from ordinary parish ministry. So Neale spent the years between 1846 and 1866 as a warden of Sackvi… Go to person page >
Now to our Saviour let us raise. J. M. Neale. [Ascension.] Appeared in his Hymns for Children, 1st Ser., 1842, in 7 stanzas of 4 lines, No. xxviii., as a hymn for Ascension Day, and has been included in all later editions of the same. The hymn, "Christ is gone up, yet ere He passed," is compiled from the text of 1842. It appeared in Murray's Hymnal, 1852, being composed of stanzas ii.-vi. and the doxology. This form has been repeated in numerous collections, sometimes with the omission of the doxology as in Hymns Ancient & Modern, No. 352. The alterations which are found in most hymnals, in stanza iv., where in l. 2 “to it is cold" is changed to "to her is cold;" and l. 3, "And bring them in" to "Bring wanderers in," date from Murray, 1852. Dr. Neale, having contemplated the use of the hymn at daily service, supplied an additional stanza for use in such cases before the doxology. It reads:—
"And now we haste with thankful feet,
To seek our Saviour's Face;
And in the Holy Church to meet,
His chosen dwelling-place."
In the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge Church Hymns, 1871, No. 170, the hymn for St. Matthias is thus composed: stanzas i.-ii, Dr. Neale, unaltered, as above; stanza iii., Compilers of Church Hymns to adapt it to St. Matthias' Day; stanzas iv.-v., Neale altered.