Posted by: rcottrill | March 19, 2010

Today in 1710 – Thomas Ken Died

Thomas Ken was a clergyman in the Anglican Church, serving briefly as chaplain of the royal court and of the British fleet. He became a bishop in 1685, and was one of several imprisoned in the Tower of London for refusing to sign a Declaration of Indulgence that Charles II hoped would restore Catholicism to England. Ken was later acquitted. The year of his death is disputed. Historian John Julian lists it as either 1710 or 1711.

In 1674, Thomas Ken published a Manual of Prayers for the students of Winchester College, a boys’ school he himself had attended. In the manual, among other selections, were the author’s beautiful Morning Hymn and Evening Hymn. During Ken’s time, the Church of England used only the Psalms for congregational singing. For that reason, he stipulated the hymns in his manual were strictly for use in private devotions. It is ironic, therefore, that both hymns end with what we now know as the Doxology, which has likely been sung more times, by more congregations in Christendom, than any other hymn!

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Thomas Ken’s Morning Hymn says, in part:

Awake, my soul, and with the sun
Thy daily stage of duty run;
Shake off dull sloth, and joyful rise,
To pay thy morning sacrifice.

Direct, control, suggest, this day,
All I design, or do, or say,
That all my powers, with all their might,
In Thy sole glory may unite.

And his Evening Hymn fittingly ends the day with:

All praise to Thee, my God, this night,
For all the blessings of the light!
Keep me, O keep me, King of kings,
Beneath Thine own almighty wings.

Forgive me, Lord, for Thy dear Son,
The ill that I this day have done,
That with the world, myself, and Thee,
I, ere I sleep, at peace may be.

(2) Today in 1935 – May Stephens Died
May Agnew Stephens was born in Kingston, Ontario, in 1865. She joined the Salvation Army and served in New York, helping to edit their War Cry magazine, and training staff in their Candidates Department. Around 1897, she began serving as a pianist and song leader at Albert Simpson’s Gospel Tabernacle. In 1902, she married Harold Stephens, who later became the pastor of Parkdale Alliance Tabernacle in Toronto. For about 20 years, she and her husband were traveling evangelists in Canada, the United States, and Britain.

In 1903, Mrs. Stephens produced one of her several gospel songs, called Never Thirst Again, (or sometimes, What! Never Thirst Again? using the first line of the refrain). It takes its inspiration from the words of the Lord Jesus to the Samaritan woman who came to get water at Jacob’s well, in Sychar (Jn. 4:5-6). (A Greek Orthodox Monastery has been built over it now. Jacob’s well is seen in the photograph. It is about 125 feet deep, and still produces water.)

Jesus said:

“Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” (Jn. 4:13-14)

There flows from Calvary a stream
For every sinner’s pain,
And he that drinketh, Jesus said,
Shall never thirst again.

What! never thirst again?
No, never thirst again;
What! never thirst again?
No, never thirst again,
For he that drinketh, Jesus said,
Shall never, never thirst again.

Earth’s fountains fair but mock our souls,
Like desert phantoms lure,
And they that drink, the fainter grow,
The keener thirst endure.


  1. I was hoping that you would tell the interesting story of how Bishop Ken stood up to the King of England in refusing to accommodate his mistress. 🙂

    • John Knox and others stood up to the monarchs of their time with holy boldness. I’m sure they’d shrink in disgust at the “political correctness” of our time that keeps so many from calling sin “sin”!

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