William Shrubsole Jnr Writes Hymns

William Shrubsole Jnr was born on November 21, at Sheerness, on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent, England in 1759. His father was a churchman and hymn writer who raised his son in the faith. When young William became a hymn writer in later years there arose confusion as to which of the two Williams actually wrote various works.

Young William was originally employed as a shipwright and in 1785 he went to London and became a clerk in the Bank of England. His career prospered until he eventually became secretary to the Committee of the Treasury.

In London he forsook the Church of England, spending the last 20 years of his life with the Congregationalists.

He took an active role in the Bible Society, the London Missionary Society, and the Religious Tract Society, holding offices in these organisations. And he was a lay preacher.

He was a director and secretary of the London Missionary Society, and contributed hymns to the Evangelical Magazine, Christian Magazine, Theological Miscellany, Christian Observer and Youth’s Magazine.

About 20 hymns were written by him, but only one is in some of today’s hymnbooks:
Arm of the Lord, awake! Awake!|
Put on your strength, the nations shake,
And let the world, adoring, view
Triumphs of mercy done by You.

Some authorities consider this to have been actually written by his father (of the same name), who is best known for the hymn tune he composed, “Miles Lane”.

It is interesting to see a verse of “Arm of the Lord, awake” that is no longer included in today’s hymnals:
Arm of the Lord, Thy power extend,
Let Mahomet’s imposture end!
Break papal superstition’s chain
And the proud scoffer’s rage restrain.

The hymn was written in 1780 – and both William Shrubsoles (Senior and Junior) were living at that date.

It is interesting also to note the fervour of the day as expressed in hymn lyrics. The notion of England being the great missionary force to the nations is captured in the final verse of Shrubsoles’ Missionary Hymn.
Oh that from Britain now might shine,
This heavenly light and truth Divine,
Till the whole universe abroad
Flame with the Glory of the Lord.

William Shrubsole Jnr died at Highbury on August 23, 1829.

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. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History, which I previously considered to be a little stuffy and of little practical value. I find in the process of updating Don’s Christian Diary that I am being constantly refreshed, illuminated or challenged by the lives of those who have gone before.

John Angell James – Pulpit & Pen

This is the day that … John Angell James was born, in 1785.

James pastored Carrs Lane British Congregationalist Church in Birmingham for over 50 years!

From 8 May, 1806 (at just 21 years of age) until his death on 1 October, 1859, John Angell James was a laborious, earnest and successful pastor, not remarkable for scholarship, but with a fine talent for practical service, a ready flow of language, and a constant aim at religious impression.

He wrote voluminously – 15 volumes consisting of sermons and addresses on practical subjects. He said of his writing, “I write plain truths, in plain language, for plain people.” His writing was purposeful and he studiously kept his audience in mind, aiming to reach them effectively. “It is my purpose, as God shall assist me by His grace, to labour more carefully for the edification, consolation, and spiritual improvement, of those who through grace have believed.” “My design is to aid the Christian in the practice of Scriptural truth. My purpose is not to lead the theologian through the intricate labyrinths of controversy—or into the depths of profound Biblical knowledge. The highest object which my literary ambition has ever led me to seek, or my own consciousness will ever lead me to hope that I can obtain, is to assist the believer in the path of life.”

Most well known of his works is The Anxious Enquirer, which sold 200,000 copies in the first five years of its publication. A 4 year-old assistant school teacher read it in 1843, was converted, and later became John Angell James’ successor at Carr’s Lane Church. That was Dr R.W. Dale, who ministered there for many years.

Spurgeon, in his autobiography, thanks God for The Anxious Enquirer (page 88), and even tells us of his “pilgrimage to Birmingham” as a lad to hear James preach (page 190).

Another to be influenced by The Anxious Enquirer was the wife of Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones. It led to her conversion (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Volume 1, pages 166-7).

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.