Born In : Britain

Lesbia Scott (1898–1986) composed a number of children’s hymns which she sang to her own children as a young mother in her twenties. She wrote both the words and the tunes and in 1929 published them in a collection, Everyday Hymns For Little Children, which she also illustrated. Each hymn was devised for a different occasion, and one of them, “Saints’ Days”, found its way to the United States and was set to a new tune (“Grand Isle”) composed especially for it by retired Episcopal priest John H. Hopkins, Jr. who was the son of the Rev. Theodore Austin Hopkins and the grandson of the first bishop of Vermont, also named John Henry Hopkins; and nephew of John Henry Hopkins Jr., author and composer of “We Three Kings of Orient Are”.

“Grand Isle” was written in 1940 and named for the community on the island of the same name in Lake Champlain in Vermont where Hopkins lived in his retirement.

In this setting it was incorporated into the Episcopal Hymnal 1940, under the title of its first line. It has been retained in the subsequent The Hymnal 1982 as Hymn #293, after its proposed removal for “lack of theological profundity” that prompted a letter-writing campaign to keep it.

The hymn also appears in the 1974 Book of Worship for United States Forces as Hymn #444 and in the United Methodist 1989 Hymnal as Hymn #712 (with some altered words), the 1990 Presbyterian Hymnal, and the NACCC’s 2006 Hymns for a Pilgrim People.