William Bengo Collyer was born at Blackheath Hill, in 1782, and studied at Homerton College. Before completing his twentieth year he became pastor of a Congregational society at Peckham, continuing in that position through his life. He died in 1854. He received the degree of D.D. from the University of Edinburgh in 1808. For many years he was one of the most popular Dissenting ministers in London. He published many hymns and some works on theology.
--Annotations of the Hymnal, Charles Hutchins, M.A. 1872.
Collyer, William Bengo, D.D., born at Blackheath, April 14, 1782, educated at Homerton College, where, when 16 years old, he was enrolled as a student for the ministry. At 20 he began his ministry at Peckham on Dec. 17, 1801 ordained pastor of a small church consisting of ten communicants. From 1814 to 1826 he was also pastor of a Church meeting in Salters' Hall. On June 17, 1817, a new chapel was opened for him at Peckham. There, from the time of his settlement in 1801, he laboured with great success and honour until Dec. 11, 1853, on which clay he preached for the last time. He died Jan. 8, 1854.
Dr. Collyer was eminent in his day as an eloquent Evangelical preacher, when formalism in worship, and Arianism in doctrine, prevailed. He was a man of amiable disposition, polished manners, and Christian courtesy; popular with rich and poor alike. He was the author of a series of lectures on Divine Revelation, in seven volumes: Scripture Facts, Prophecies, Miracles, Parables, Doctrines, Duties, Comparisons. Dr. Collyer compiled a hymn-book with the title, Hymns partly collected and partly original, designed as a supplement to Dr. Watts's Psalms and Hymns, 1812. It was intended at first for the use of his own congregation only, and was to include many hymns composed by himself, to be sung after sermons which he had preached to them, but he was led to alter the plan. It comprises 979 hymns, 6 choruses, and 4 doxologics, arranged in groups according to their authors, and not subjects. Of this number 57 were written by Dr. Collyer, and are for the most part short descriptive or didactic poems, religious or moral essays in verse, and not hymns addressed to the Creator and Redeemer. Some of them are devoid of Christian truth, and are poems of nature or of sentiment. Some of them were written during the hard and sorrowful times of the wars of Bonaparte, and relate to famine and national calamity. Several were prepared for the public meetings of missionary and benevolent societies, which had their origin in his time. He also published Services suited to the Solemnization of Matrimony, Baptism, &c, 1837, which contained 89 of his hymns, &c.; Hymns for Israel, a Tribute of Love for God's Ancient People, 1848 (41 hymns). In Dr. Leifchild's Original Hymns, 1843, there are also 39 of his compositions. Many of his pieces appeared in the Evangelical Magazine, and were also appended to his numerous published Sermons. A few of his hymns are still in common use, including. "Another fleeting day is gone"; "Assembled at Thy great command"; "O Jesu, in this solemn hour"; "O Thou, the helpless orphan's hope"; "Return, O wanderer, return," and the fine cento, "Great God, what do I see and hear."
[Rev. F. J. Faulding, D.D.]
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)
Collyer, William Bengo, p. 243, ii. The following hymns by Dr. Collyer are also in common use:—
1. Another fleeting day is gone. Evening. (1812.)
2. 0 Jesus, in this solemn hour. Reception of Church Officers. (1842.)
3. O Thou, the helpless orphan's hope. On Behalf of Orphans. In the Evangelical Magazine, 1808, p. 48.
4. See the clouds upon the mountain. Sunday Morning. (1842.)
5. Soft be the gently breathing notes. Praise to the Redeemer. (1812.)
6. Softly the shade of evening falls. Evening. (1812.) From this, “Soon shall a darker night descend" is taken.
7. Thou Prince of glory slain for me. Good Friday. (1812.)
The date 1812 is that of his Collection, and 1842 of Leifchild's Original Hymns.
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology, Appendix, Part II (1907)