O happy day, that fixed my choice

From “Then Sings My Soul…”

"O Happy day, that fixed my choice"

 

Philip Doddridge (1702 – 1751)

 

Eighteen of Monica Doddridge’s nineteen children died in infancy. When number 20 arrived on June 26th 1702, he too appeared stillborn. But while being laid aside, he cried out. Monica determined then and there to raise Philip for the Lord. As a young child, he sat on her knees at the fireplace, which was lined with Delft tiles illustrating the history of the Bible. Using those tiles, Monica taught her son the lessons of scripture. When he was later orphaned, Philip wrote in his diary, “God is an immortal Father, my soul rejoices in Him.  He hath hitherto helped me and provided for me; may it be my study to approve myself a more affectionate, grateful and dutiful child.” But he was destitute, and though he longed to be a minister, there seemed to way to afford the necessary education. Friends advised him to prepare for another profession, but before making a final decision Philip set apart a day for earnest prayer. While he was praying, the postman arrived with a letter from a wealthy benefactor offering to finance his training. It was such a timely answer that Philip resolved henceforth to live a life of prayer, and he trained himself to pray without ceasing, even while getting washed and dressed in the morning. At age 27, Philip was asked to become the head of a seminary for Dissenting (non-Anglican) ministerial students in Northampton, England. His health was frail, and he didn’t think he was well enough for the new responsibilities.  But while passing a house, he overheard a child reading Deuteronomy 33.25: “As thy days, so shall thy strength be.”  He took it as from God and accepted the call.

The reputation of Northampton Academy radiated through England and students flocked there, in part because of Philip’s chapel sermons and his powerful prayer life. For 22 years, Philip trained students, and his books became essential reading for the Christians of his day. By age 48, however, he was exhausted. Consumption struck his lungs, and he travelled to Lisbon for a therapeutic holiday, passing away there away on October 26th 1751.  Today he is remembered for his collection of nearly 400 hymns, published posthumously in 1755 and which included “O Happy Day”:
 

“O happy day, that fixed my choice On Thee, my Savior and my God! Well may this glowing heart rejoice, And tell its raptures all abroad.

Refrain:

Happy day, happy day, when Jesus washed my sins away! He taught me how to watch and pray, and live rejoicing every day Happy day, happy day, when Jesus washed my sins away.

 

O happy bond, that seals my vows To Him Who merits all my love! Let cheerful anthems fill His house,While to that sacred shrine I move.‘Tis done: the great transaction’s done!I am the Lord’s and He is mine;He drew me, and I followed on;Charmed to confess the voice divine.”