Born in 1674, at Southampton, England, I grew up in the home of “non-Comformists” during the time when the Church of England persecuted Dissenters and Independents. My father was jailed twice at this time of persecution. I learned Latin at the age of five, Greek at nine, French at eleven and Hebrew at thirteen. I had a propensity for rhyme and would inadvertently drive my parents to distraction with my verses.
Once I was caught with my eyes open during prayer. I earnestly explained to my father that "A little mouse for want of stairs ran up a rope to say its prayers." Enough was enough and my father set out to punish me. I cried in despair and pleaded, "O father, do some pity take And I will no more verses make."
I am recognized as the "Father of English Hymnody" for I have been credited with over 600 hymns.
Who am I?
Hint: Hymn #163
Alas! and did my Savior bleed And did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head For such a worm as I?
Thy body slain, sweet Jesus, Thine—And bathed in its own blood—
While the firm mark of wrath divine, His Soul in anguish stood.
Was it for crimes that I had done He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! grace unknown! And love beyond degree!
Well might the sun in darkness hide And shut his glories in,
When Christ, the mighty Maker died, For man the creature’s sin.
Thus might I hide my blushing face While His dear cross appears,
Dissolve my heart in thankfulness, And melt my eyes to tears.
But drops of grief can ne’er repay The debt of love I owe:
Here, Lord, I give my self away’Tis all that I can do.