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Blomfield, Dorothy (1858–1932)

Blomfield, Dorothy (1858–1932)

British poet and hymn writer, best known for her oft-sung wedding hymn, "O Perfect Love." Born Dorothy Frances Blomfield in London, England, in October 1858; died in London, England, 1932; eldest of five children of Frederick G. Blomfield (an Anglican minister); sister of Katherine, Isabella, and Daisy Blomfield; granddaughter of the Rt. Rev. C.J. Blomfield (a distinguished bishop of London); married Gerald Gurney (an Anglican minister), in 1897.

To this day, a tradition in many old-fashioned English weddings is the singing of a century-old hymn "O Perfect Love," written by the poet Dorothy Blomfield for her sister's wedding in 1883. The words were set to the music of J.B. Dykes' hymn "Strength and Stay," a particular favorite of the bride-to-be who, nonetheless, considered the words inappropriate for a wedding and challenged her sister to write new ones. Blomfield reputedly created the verse in less than 15 minutes, saying later that she felt God had helped her write it. The hymn gained popularity in 1889, when Queen Victoria 's granddaughter Princess Louise chose it for her wedding to the Duke of Fife. Ironically, the princess loved the words, but not the tune, and had new music for it composed by Joseph Barnby, a Yorkshire composer. It is to his tune that the hymn is sung today.

Blomfield also produced several volumes of quotable verse, including the popular poem "God's Garden." At age 40, after years of caring for her aging parents, she married an Anglican minister, Gerald Gurney, son of poet and hymn writer Rev. Archer Thompson Gurney (1820–1887). In 1919, the couple stunned their family and friends when, after 22 years in service to the Church of England, they converted to Catholicism. Their later years, spent in London, were somewhat of a struggle. Blomfield died there at the age of 74, having never received a penny in royalty for her famous hymn, although it was widely used throughout the world.

sources:

Appleyard, Simon. "'O Perfect Love,'" in This England. Summer 1990.

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts

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