Little Drops of Water (Little Things)
DESCRIPTION: "Little drops of water, Little grains of sand, Make the mighty ocean And (the pleasant/a beautiful) land."
AUTHOR: Julia A. Fletcher Carney (1823-1908) (See NOTES)
EARLIEST DATE: 1848 (Brewer, Reading and Spelling, according to Julian)
FOUND IN: US(SE)
REFERENCES (5 citations):
MHenry-Appalachians, p. 242, (no title) (1 short text)
Baring-Gould-MotherGoose #798, p. 293, "(Little drops of water)"
ADDITIONAL: Hazel Felleman, Best Loved Poems of the American People, p. 635-636, "Little Things" (1 text)
Martin Gardner, editor, _Famous Poems from Bygone Days_, Dover, 1995, pp. 35-36, "Little Things" (1 text)
John Julian, editor, _A Dictionary of Hymnology_, 1892; second edition 1907 (I use the 1957 Dover edition in two volumes), p. 679, (2 texts, a comparison of the Brewer and "American" versions)
ST MHAp242A (Full)
NOTES: This item has been variously attributed; Granger's Index to Poetry notes attributions to E. C. Brewer (1810-1897) and Frances S. Osgood, but unequivocally lists the author as Julia A. Fletcher Carney. The Baring-Goulds and Gardner also credit it to her, and Felleman agrees though it gives her name simply as Julia A. Fletcher.
According to Gardner, Brewer (yes, the author of Brewer's Phrase and Fable) added a stanza and managed to get credit for the whole thing as a result. So, e.g., the notes in Julian, p. 679, "The original of this hymn, by Dr. E. C. Brewer, was 1st pubished in Reading and Speling, 1848, in 5 st[anzas] of 4 l[ines]. Subsequently it reappeared in a very much altered and improved form in the American Juvenile Missionary Magazine, also in 5 st[anzas]. From that magazine it was copied into Hymns and Sacred Songs, pub[lished] at Manchester by Fletcher and Tubbs, 1855, and from that collection it has passed into numerous children's hymnals in the United Kingdom. When the [common] version.... is compared with the original it is found that the leading thought of the hymn and the first stanza are all that remain of that first published by Dr. Brewer...." Julian goes on to note additional verses by Bickersteth and by Thring.
The second edition of Julian, however, gets it right (p. 1665), admitting that Brewer added his "four inferior verses of his own" to Carney's first verse.
This rather insipid piece (which continues, "So the little moments, Humble though they be, Make the mighty ages Of eternity") is clearly Fletcher Carney's "hit"; Grangers's lists nine books which contain it, but cites no other works from her pen whatsoever. Gardner mentions (and prints) only one, "Think Gently of the Erring." - RBW
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