St. Botolph

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Continuing the series on monastic saints, compiled by Jason John Edwards, Obl.S.B.

From From Rev. Alban Butler’s “The Lives of the Saints: Volume VI: June”:

Botolph of Thorney (also called BotwulfBotulph or Botulf; died around 680) was an English abbot and saint. He is the patron saint of travelers and the various aspects of farming. His feast day is celebrated either on 17 June (England) or 25 June (Scotland), and his translation falls on 1 December.

Botolphis supposed to have been buried originally at his foundation of Icanho, but in 970 Edgar I of England gave permission for Botolph’s remains to be transferred to Burgh, near Woodbridge, where they remained for some fifty years before being transferred to their own tomb at Bury St Edmunds Abbey on the instructions of Cnut. The saint’s relics were later transferred again, along with those of his brother Adulf, to Thorney Abbey, although his head was transferred to Ely Abbey and various body parts to other houses, including Westminster Abbey.

He is remembered in the names of both the market town of Boston, Lincolnshire in the United Kingdom and Boston, Massachusetts, in the United States. Boston was originally Botolphston (from “Botolph’s stone” or “Botolph’s town”).

From Br. John-Bede Pauley, O.S.B.: St. Botolph—or the town named after him, at least—inspired a hymn tune dear to those in the Anglican patrimony.  Here is a link to an a cappella performance.  And the following history of the hymn tune is taken from Hymnary.org.

The hymn tune ST. BOTOLPH was composed by Gordon A. Slater (b. Harrogate, Yorkshire, England, 1896; d. Lincoln, England, 1979) and first published in Songs of Praise for Boys and Girls (1930). The tune was named for St. Botolph’s Parish Church in Boston, Lincolnshire, England, where Slater was organist from 1919 to 1927, following his service in the British army in France during World War I. That church honors St. Botolph, the seventh-century abbot of an influential monastery thought to have been near Iken, northeast of Ipswich in Suffolk, a monastery destroyed during the Danish invasions. … As originally intended by Slater, ST. BOTOLPH is best sung in unison. Music theory students may delight in finding some parallel fifths in the harmonization. Sing and accompany in two long lines rather than in four short phrases. “Jesus, the Very Thought of You” (480) is often sung to ST. BOTOLPH in British churches. –Psalter Hymnal Handbook

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