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Reginald Heber (1783-1826)

Bread of the World, In Mercy Broken (eucharistic hymn)

Bread of the world, in mercy broken,
Wine of the soul, in mercy shed,
By Whom the words of life were spoken,
And in Whose death our sins are dead.

Look on the heart by sorrow broken,
Look on the tears by sinners shed;
And be Thy feast to us the token,
That by Thy grace our souls are fed.

Reginald Heber was born at Malpas, Cheshire,  April 21, 1783.  He attended Brasenose College, Oxford, where he proved himself a gifted poet and writer.  In 1800, his "Carmen Seculare" won Oxford's Latin prize.  In 1803, his most well known poem, "Palestine," won the prize for English verse.  In November 1804, he was elected as a fellow at All Souls College, Oxford.  In 1805, he won the prize for the best English essay with "The Sense of Honor."  In 1807, following an extended tour of the continent, Heber was ordained and assumed the living at Hodnet.  In 1809, he married Amelia Shipley, daughter of William Davies Shipley, dean of St. Asaph.

Heber frequently contributed works to the Quarterly Review and had several hymns published in the Christian Observer.  Then, in 1812, he published a volume of hymns.  Among Heber's best known hymns are:  "Lord of Mercy and of Might," "From Greenland's Icy Mountains" and  "Holy, Holy, Holy".  In 1815, he was appointed Bampton lecturer at Oxford.  In 1817, Heber was made prebendary of St. Asaph and was named preacher of Lincoln's Inn in 1822.

In 1823, after refusing twice, he accepted an appointment as Bishop of Calcutta.  Prior to his departure for India, Heber was awarded the D.D. degree from Oxford.  While serving in India he was vigorous in the performance of his duties.  He made several tours of the country, consecrating new churches and opening new schools.  The combination of a demanding schedule  and  the harsh Indian climate caused his health to weaken.  Bishop Reginald Heber died while visiting Trichinopoly, India, on April 26, 1826, at the age of 43.


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