John Fawcett

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(From "Library of Christian Hymns" by Dahle)

John Fawcett, Baptist preacher of England, was born January 6, 1739 (or 1740), in Lidget Green, near Bradford, Yorkshire. At the age of 16 he came under the influence of Whitefield and joined the Methodists, but three years later he became a member of the Baptist church of Bradford. In 1765 he was ordained to the ministry and was installed in the Baptist congregation of Wainsgate, Yorkshire. Seven years later, in 1772, he was called to London to succeed the famous Dr. J. Gills of Carter’s Lane. He accepted the call. After delivering his farewell sermon to the congregation at Wainsgate, six loads of household goods were brought up near the church preparatory to his leaving for London. But the congregation was not ready to bid him farewell. Men, women, and children thronged about their pastor and his family and wept. Fawcett and his wife also were moved to tears at the sight. Finally his wife said, “O John, I cannot endure this; I do not understand how we can leave this place.” “No, you are right,” he replied, “neither shall we leave.” Then all their belongings were unpacked and put in their old places. It has been thought that Fawcett upon this occasion wrote the famous hymn, “Blest be the tie that binds,” which is such a favorite in Reformed circles. In 1777 the congregation built a new church near Heddon Bridge, and about the same time he opened a school in Brearly Hall, where he lived. In 1793 he was offered the position of president of the Baptist academy at Bristol, but declined. In 1811 he received his diploma of doctor of theology from America. He died in 1817, at the age of 78. Dr. Fawcett wrote many treatises on theological themes, and a large number of hymns and spiritual songs. The greater number of his hymns are found in the collection, Hymns adapted to the Circumstances of Public Worship and Private Devotion, Leeds, Wright and Son, 1782, in all 166 hymns. About 20 of these are in general use.

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