The pure, the bright, the beautiful,
That stirred our hearts in youth;
The impulse to a wordless pray'r
The dreams of love and truth;
The longings after something lost,
The spirit's yearning cry;
The strivings after better hopes;
These things can never die!
Lee Dengler, has become a sort of standard. But what was the source of the attribution to Dickens? My hunch was that it might be due to its having appeared in one of his periodicals, and that proved right when I found it in All The Year Round from an issue in 1862. Here, it was given the title "Imperishable," but without an author credit (ATYR, like Dickens's earlier Household Words, never gave any of its authors a byline). But wait, the plot thickened: rival settings of the same song, under the title "The pure! The bright! The beautiful!" turned up at nearly the same time, attributed to the famous songster Stephen Foster, he of "I Dream of Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair." It's possible that Foster composed a setting for the poem, of course, but the published sheet music mentions no other author.
Dengler's arrangement of the song remains an extraordinary one, with a sort of antiphonal structure between lower and higher registers, and a hymnodic resolution to each verse that could bring the hardest unbeliever to believe -- not necessarily in God as such, but in "these things" -- and in these long-misattributed words of Sarah Doudney's, which have long since proven themselves imperishable.