Probably every Christian is familiar with the name Charles Wesley. It seems like half the hymns in a typical hymnal have his name on them. He’s by far the best-known hymn writer in English history if not in the entire world, but before him there was a man named Thomas Ken, who has been called England’s first hymnist.
Ken was an ordained minister who served as chaplain at Winchester College, his alma mater. In 1674, while at Winchester, he wrote what has become the most widely-sung verse in the world.
In order to encourage devotional habits among the boys, he wrote the first three hymns to appear in England. Up until that time, only Psalms were sung in public.
The first of these hymns was to be sung upon waking in the mornings, the second at bedtime, and the third at midnight if sleep didn’t come. All three of these hymns ended with a common stanza:
Praise God from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly hosts;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Many churches sing the Doxology at the beginning or end of every service. The church I grew up in was one of these. Those who don’t sing it with every service probably all sing it at least occasionally.
As a measure of the man’s character, when he was appointed chaplain to King Charles II, the king asked him to lodge one of his many mistresses in the chaplain’s residence, and he refused. He rebuked the king, saying, “Not for the King’s Kingdom.”
The next king, James II, sentenced him to the Tower of London for his Protestant beliefs. After he died on March 11, 1711, he was buried at sunrise, and the Doxology was sung at his funeral.
If you abide in Me and My word abides in you, then you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.
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Thank you David for the post on Thomas Ken. I would like to invite you to check out the website for the upcoming book series, The Asbury Triptych Series. The trilogy is on the life of Francis Asbury. The opening book, Black Country, delivers much about Charles Wesley, it also does what has not been done before, detail Asbury’s ministry in England before leaving for America in 1771. Black Country also delivers much on Whitefield, John Wesley and their chief financial backer and helper, Selina, The Countess of Huntingdon. Website is: http://www.francisasburytriptych.com. Again, thank you for the post on Thomas Ken.
Thanks, Al. I’ll take a look.
I’ve sung the Doxology throughout my lifetime, and never knew this. Interesting.
This is interesting, David. I did not know about Thomas Ken, though of course his hymn, as the doxology, is very familiar.
Thanks, Sis. I hadn’t heard of him either until I looked this up.