- Singing the Faith: 504
- Katie Barclay Wilkinson
- “St Leonards” by Arthur Cyril Barham-Gould
“May the mind of Christ my Saviour” was written with children particularly in mind. It first appeared in the Children’s Special Service Mission hymnal, Golden Bells (1925), and seems to be the only known hymn by Kate (Katie) Barclay Wilkinson.
The hymn draws upon several phrases from the letters of the New Testament. The opening line paraphrases an injunction to the early church in Philippi: “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). Verse 2, emphasising the importance of the scriptures in Christian living, borrows from Colossians 3:16 (“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly”); and verse 5 draws on Hebrews 12:1-2 – “let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us”.
However, though there may be an intentional teaching element to this hymn – embedding key texts that reflect the example of Jesus – there is nothing preachy about the text. Rather (and especially when supported by Arthur Barham-Gould’s tune, “St Leonards”), there is a personal, prayerful, quality to the writing.
In a sequence of simple petitions, each verse draws upon the life of Jesus as sole guide and example for the spiritual and practical Christian life. Naming the gifts and qualities that God offers through Christ (the “mind of Christ”, God’s Word, the peace of God, and the love of Jesus), Kate Barclay Wilkinson shows that they are all offered to us in order that we may offer them on to others – “that I may be calm to comfort / sick and sorrowing” – “so that all may see I triumph / only through his power”.
The hymn has an original sixth verse:
May his beauty rest upon me
as I seek the lost to win,
and may they forget the channel,
seeing only him.
This reads like a slightly pale echo of verse 2 and, arguably, represents a falling-off from the confident, almost exultant, fifth verse with which the now familiar version of the hymn concludes.
Little is known about Kate Barclay Wilkinson. She was born on 27 August, 1859, in Timperley, Cheshire, and died on 28 December, 1928, in Kensington, London. A member of the Church of England, she appears to have worked with girls and young women in West London and may have had connections with the “Deeper Life” (sometimes “Higher Life”) movement associated with the Keswick Convention.