Posted by: rcottrill | July 13, 2010

Today in 1769 – Thomas Kelly Born

Thomas Kelly was the son of a judge in Ireland. He intended to follow his father into the legal profession, but then the Lord got hold of his life and turned him in a new direction. He trained for Christian ministry, but his energetic preaching of the doctrine of justification by faith closed the pulpits of the established church to him. Undaunted, he pastored independent churches instead.

Kelly was a fine scholar, and a powerful preacher, but was also known as a deeply humble and generous man. During the year of the great famine in Ireland (1847) he gave continuing assistance to the impoverished people in his community. One poor man reputedly said to his wife, “Hold up Bridget! There’s always Mr. Kelly to pull us out of the bog, after we’ve sunk for the last time!”

Thomas Kelly wrote over 760 hymns (several of which are still in use) and he compiled a number of hymn books. Many of his hymns overflow with joy and praise. Among his creations:

Praise the Saviour Ye Who Know Him
Hark! Ten Thousand Harps and Voices
Look Ye Saints, the Sight Is Glorious
The Head that Once Was Crowned With Thorns

When he was on his deathbed, a friend quoted from the 23rd Psalm, “The Lord is my shepherd,” to which Kelly replied, “The Lord is my everything.” (For more about Mr. Kelly and his hymns, see the second item under Today in 1752.)

The Bible exhorts us, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord” (Ps. 150:6). And Kelly has given us a fine little hymn of praise.

Praise the Saviour, ye who know Him!
Who can tell how much we owe Him?
Gladly let us render to Him
All we are and have.

Jesus is the name that charms us,
He for conflict fits and arms us;
Nothing moves and nothing harms us
While we trust in Him.

Thomas Kelly’s final stanza below may seem a bit of an enigma at first glance, but it presents a biblical promise when you think it through (cf. I Pet. 1:3-5; I Jn. 3:2). As believers, we’ll soon be where we “would be” [i.e. want to be]–in heaven, and we’ll be what we should be–finally and fully perfected.

Keep us, Lord, O keep us cleaving
To Thyself, and still believing,
Till the hour of our receiving
Promised joys with Thee.

Then we shall be where we would be,
Then we shall be what we should be,
Things that are not now, nor could be,
Soon shall be our own.

SINGING THROUGH THE ALPHABET. Have you ever tried it–singing (from memory) the first stanza of hymns starting with A…B…C–and so on. I did it yesterday, as I was driving to a preaching appointment in a city some distance away. It can provide an uplifting session of praise, as well as being a helpful test of the memory. Why not check out my article on the subject, and give it a try.

 (2) I Sought the Lord (Data Missing)
The little hymn I Sought the Lord was published in America around 1880, but we know nothing of the authorship. It provides an important reminder regarding the prior work of God in our lives. Concerning the unsaved, the Bible says, “There is none who seeks after God” (Rom. 3:11). Nothing in the unregenerate heart has either the inclination or the power to seek God. It is the Lord who must take the initiative. “We love Him because He first loved us” (I Jn. 4:19). For the tune, check the Cyber Hymnal.

I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew
He moved my soul to seek Him, seeking me.
It was not I that found, O Saviour true;
No, I was found of Thee.

Thou didst reach forth Thy hand and mine enfold;
I walked and sank not on the storm vexed sea.
’Twas not so much that I on Thee took hold,
As Thou, dear Lord, on me.

I find, I walk, I love, but oh, the whole
Of love is but my answer, Lord, to Thee!
For Thou were long beforehand with my soul,
Always Thou lovest me.


  1. […] More about Thomas Kelly here. […]

  2. […] wrote many hymns. (The Cyber Hymnal lists 124.) For a bit more about the man and his hymns, see Today in 1769. Included in these songs, and still in common use […]

  3. […] Wordwise Hymns The Cyber […]


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