This is the day that … John Marriott was born near Lutterworth, England, in 1780.
Marriott apparently displayed both a strong academic bent and an interest in music from his youth.
He was educated at Oxford and was the second student to attain first class honours there. He was then ordained to the Anglican ministry, and became chaplain to a Scottish duke. During this time he became a close friend of Sir Walter Scott.
Scott honoured Marriott’s love of music and interest in the music of the Scottish Border region, by the following reference in his work, “Marmion”:
Marriott, thy harp, on Isis strung,
To many a Border tune has rung.
In 1808 he became minister in the parish of Warwickshire, but his wife’s illness made it necessary to move to Devon.
“He wrote a number of hymns but modesty prevented his permitting publication of them during his lifetime …” (Companion to the Baptist Hymnal, page 367).
His best known hymn is categorised as a Missionary Hymn and was written in 1813 and published 42 years after his death … (this is an updated version of the hymn)
Thou, Whose almighty word
Chaos and darkness heard,
And took their flight,
Hear us, we humbly pray,
And, where the gospel day
Sheds not its glorious ray,
Let there be light!
Savior, you came to give
Those who in darkness live
Healing and sight;
Help those who seek to find,
Heal those whose hearts are blind,
And in each humble mind
Let there be light!
Marriott originally set the hymn to the English National Anthem, God Save the King, but it was later given other tunes.
John Marriott died on 31 March, 1825.
This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com.