Born: March 25, 1823, Alford, Somerset, England.
Died: September 13, 1903, Shamley Green, Surrey, England.
Buried: Shamley Green, Surrey, England.
Godfrey was the son of John Gale Dalton Thring (rector of Alford) and Sarah Jenkyns, and brother of Theodore Thring, Henry, Lord Thring; Edward Thring (headmaster of Uppingham School); and John Charles Thring (a master at Uppingham School).
He was educated at Shrewsbury School and Balliol College, Oxford (BA 1845).
After ordination in the Anglican church, he served as:
Thring’s Hymns and Poems for the Holy Days and the Festivals of the Church became well known. His brother Edward wrote of this work:
Be sure that no painting, no art work you could have done, could have been so powerful for good…As long as the English language lasts, sundry of your hymns will be read and sung…and many a soul of God’s creatures will thrill at your words. What more can a man want?
Very likely if you had had all that old heathendom rammed into you, as I had, and all the literary slicing and pruning, and been scissored like me, you would just have lost the freshness and simple touch which makes you what you are.
No, my boy, I make a tidy schoolmaster and pass into the lives of many a pupil, and you live on the lips of the Church. So be satisfied. And what does it matter, if we do the Master’s will?
Godfrey’s other works include:
One human soul recalled by Christ
Returned, but with returning breath
Told not of what it is to die,
But passing o’er it silently,
In silence solved the mystery
Of death in life, and life in death.
But who this mighty wonder wrought
Had followed Lazarus to the grave,
And He who raised the dead had died,
And Hell her mouth had opened wide
In scorn to claim the Crucified,
The Savior who had failed to save.
Dark doubtings then in many hearts,
Sad searchings with the faithful few,
Their much-loved Lord had gone, and they
Could now but wait and watch and pray
In patience for returning day,
To launch their bark on life anew.
The night of that dark afternoon
Still hung in sadness o’er His grave,
There lay the thoughts He loved to share,
The Life that theirs had made so fair,
There all they ever had, and there
What now they never more could have.
The sun had set on Judah’s hills,
And night in sullen silence frowned
On palace, citadel, and tower,
Lone fragments of a wasted power,
The knell of whose departing hour
Rang out with no uncertain sound.
The olives stood on Olivet,
Dumb mourners in their tearless grief,
O’er the lone city as it lay,
Deserted by expiring day,
And watching ere it died away,
Blushed crimson in each quivering leaf.
But soon, in eastern radiance clad,
Morn up the mountain ridges ran,
And dreaming night fled far away
Beyond the western sea, and day
Shone o’er the land once more, for aye
Made sacred by the shame of man.
A day of sadness, gloom, and grief,
And yet of silent hope within
The hearts of those who saw Him die,
Yet deemed that in His agony
He’d struck the chord of Victory,
And saved a world from sin.
And when another morn had rolled
Her misty shroud from off the scene,
From lip to lip the rumor ran,
That Death had loosed her grasp on man,
And Christ had, ere the day began,
Appeared to Mary Magdalene.
idle tales! the sun his grave
Might make in yonder mirrored sea,
And rise new-born new life to give—
But man! could man from earth revive,
And sun-like rise, self-raised, to live
On earth once more? It could not be.
Vain thought! was this the widest breach
That man’s poor puny mind could span,
At morn, the climbing up the steep,
A noon—an eve—and then a sleep
Beneath a dark unfathomed deep—
The last long, long, long sleep of man?
Was this the goal of all the past,
The mark of twice two thousand years;
Where were the prophecies, and where
The hopes that in their hopeless prayer,
As sunbeams in the winter air,
Pierced through the blinding mist of tears?
Awake once more! They did but sleep,
Borne to and fro, and in and out,
As eddies in a fretful stream,
A restless slumber, soon to seem
But fragments of a broken dream
Too dark for truth, too true for doubt.
For as they mourned and wept, Himself,
E’en Jesus, stood, unchanged, unmoved,
The same calm eye its living ray
Of love forth sent, the same today
As ever, yesterday, and aye,
The same—Beloving and Beloved.
Strange, wondrous sight! but yestereve
Had seen the sky with black o’ercast,
Then the dark watches of the night,
A dawn—a day—and now a Light,
Of lights above all others bright,
Burst in upon the darkling past.
What mingled thoughts of love and awe,
As now the sounds of mourning cease;
They see their Savior standing there,
The living answer to their prayer,
With all save one, their joy to share,
And hear the whispered word of
With all save one! praise God for him
Whose doubt gave birth to larger faith;
And from whose weakness rose a wall
Of strength to others, and to all
Who should hereafter Jesus call
Their Lord and Master e’en to death.
For could ere this ought else be said?
Death called, and man obeyed the call;
The burden borne on every tongue,
In still unchanging changes rung,
And death undying closer clung,
And reigned in terror over all.
But would the grave give up her dead,
Since Christ the Lord of life had died?
The riddle was unraveled then
E’en to His doubting servant, when
He heard his Savior’s voice again,
And thrust his finger in His side.
Up faltering hearts! away with fear,
For honest doubt but breedeth faith,
And thoughts divided by the strain,
As torrent waters rent in twain,
But part, in Christ to meet again,
And share His triumph over death;
The blessing that He left behind
On those who, though they could not see,
Should yet believe, is thine and mine,
The parting ray of Light Divine,
Left by Eternal Love to shine
On struggling myriads yet to be.
The worst is o’er! Take heart and pray,
As bending low beneath the rod,
No longer left to fight alone,
That thou may’st know as thou art known,
And, gazing on His glorious Throne,
With Thomas cry,
My Lord, my God.
Hymns and Sacred Lyrics, 1874
If you have access to a good photo of Thring (head-and-shoulders, at least 200×300 pixels),