SAVANNAH, Ga. (DPS, Jan. 19) -- The Rev. Francis Bland Tucker
died at his home after a long illness. He would have celebrated his
89th birthday Jan. 6, the Feast of the Epiphany.
A Bible scholar, hymnologist, poet, musician and theologian,
he was the only churchman to serve on the two commissions, forty-two
years apart, that revised hymnals of the Episcopal Church. He had held
numerous positions of leadership in the Diocese of Georgia, and filled
roles of humanitarian concern and civic responsibility in Savannah after
coming to Christ Church in 1945.
"Dr. Tucker's interest in and contributions to the new liturgy and hymnody of the Episcopal Church showed a flexibility and intellectual vitality truly remarkable in a man his age," Bishop Paul Reeves
of the Diocese of Georgia, said. "It may sound trite, but I regard his
death as the passing of an era. He was a cultivated Christian and
Virginia gentleman in the best sense of all those words, and I speak as
a Virginian. We shall miss him."
Tucker came to Savannah after serving 20 years at St. John's
Church in Washington, D.C. and five years at St. Andrew's Church in
Lawrenceville, Va. He had established a reputation as a hymnologist by
his work on the commission that produced the Hymnal, 1940.
In that 1940 revision, he was the translator or author of six
hymns, and since then his works have been included in contemporary English-language hymnals of other Christian denominations. For the hymnal
revision that was completed last year, he served on the text committee.
At the 1982 Convention which overwhelmingly approved the
revised Hymnal (a revision that retained all of Tucker's contributions)
he was warmly received by both Houses and honored by a testimonial that
read in part: "His distinguished career in the parish ministry would
have been enough for most people, but Bland Tucker, through his hymns,
has served as a pastor to his national Church and to Christians throughout the world... Merely to catalog his contributions to the Hymnal,
1940 is to demonstrate how greatly we would be impoverished without
Those contributions include: "Alone thou goest forth, O
Lord"; "Father, we thank thee who hast planted"; "The great Creator of
the worlds"; "Master of eager youth"; "All praise to thee, for thou, O
King divine" and "Our Father, by whose name all fatherhood is known."
He was also a theological advisor to the commission that
produced the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.
A collateral descendant of George Washington, Tucker was a
son of the late Bishop Beverly Dandridge Tucker and Maria Washington
Tucker. His mother was the last baby to be born at Mount Vernon, now a
national shrine as the home of the first President of the United States.
He was educated at the University of Viriginia and Virginia
Theological Seminary. He was ordained to the ministry as a deacon in
1918, donning clerical vestments over the World War I Army uniform he
would wear to France with the American Expeditionary Force. He was
ordained priest in 1920 after returning from overseas and completing
his third year in Virginia Seminary. In 1944, the seminary conferred on
him the Doctor of Divinity degree.
Besides his father, two of his brothers became bishops. One,
Henry St. George Tucker, was presiding bishop from 1938 to 1946. A
third Tucker brother became a priest and two other brothers served as
missionaries. Seven of his nephews and grand-nephews are priests.
In 1945, the Diocese of Western North Carolina elected Tucker
a bishop, but he declined the position, declaring that his ministry here
had not been completed. He remained at Christ Church until his retirement in 1967, at which time he was designated rector-emeritus and given
lifetime ownership of the rectory at 211 E. York St.
The "family of clergy" label assigned to the Tuckers of
Virginia gained further amplification when Tucker married Mary
Goldsborough "Polly" Laird, whose sister was the wife of the Rev. W.
Cosby Bell, dean of Virginia Theological Seminary and one of the recognized scholars of the Episcopal Church. Mrs. Tucker died in Savannah in