Philip Doddridge was a Puritan church leader in England. Despite ill-health that would kill him at the young age of forty-eight, he trained about two hundred ministers, teaching them Bible, Greek, Hebrew, math, philosophy, and theology. He also wrote The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul and about four hundred hymns. Most of the hymns were written to illustrate his sermons. (The only one still widely sung is “O Happy Day”.) One of his hymns was written to accompany a funeral sermon given on this day in 1736. Its heading reads, “‘Comfort in God under the Removal of Ministers or other Useful Persons by Death,’ to follow a sermon, August 22, 1736, on Joshua 1: 2, 4, 5, occasioned by the death of a minister at Kettering, Northamptonshire.” Like his other hymns, this was not published until after his death.
“Now let our mourning hearts revive,
And all our tears be dry;
Why should those eyes be drowned in grief
Which view a Savior nigh?
“What though the arm of conquering death
Does God’s own house invade?
What though the prophet and the priest
Be numbered with the dead?
“The eternal Shepherd still survives,
New comfort to impart;
His eye still guides us, and His voice
Still animates our heart.
“Lo! I am with you, saith the Lord,
My church shall safe abide;
For I will ne’er forsake My own,
Whose souls in Me confide….”
Hatfield, Edwin F. The Poets of the Church. New York: Anson D. F. Randolph & Co., 1884.