Edmeston, James, born Sept. 10, 1791. His maternal grandfather was the Rev. Samuel Brewer, who for 50 years was the pastor of an Independent congregation at Stepney. Educated as an architect and surveyor, in 1816 he entered upon his profession on his own account, and continued to practice it until his death on Jan. 7, 1867. The late Sir G. Gilbert Scott was his pupil. Although an Independent by descent he joined the Established Church at a comparatively early age, and subsequently held various offices, including that of churchwarden, in the Church of St. Barnabas, Homerton. His hymns number nearly 2000. The best known are “Lead us, Heavenly Father, lead us” and "Saviour, breathe an evening blessing." Many of his hymns were written for children, and from their simplicity are admirably adapted to the purpose. For many years he contributed hymns of various degrees of merit to the Evangelical Magazine, His published works are:—
(1) The Search, and other Poems, 1817. (2) Sacred Lyrics, 1820, a volume of 31 hymns and one poem. This was followed by a second Series, 1821, with 35; and a third Series, 1822, with 27 pieces respectively. (3) The Cottage Minstrel; or, Hymns for the Assistance of Cottagers in their Domestic Worship, 1821. This was published at the suggestion of a member of the Home Missionary Society, and contains fifty hymns. (4) One Hundred Hymns for Sunday Schools, and for Particular Occasions, 1821. (5) Missionary Hymns, 1822. (6) Patmos, a Fragment, and Other Poems, 1824. (7) The Woman of Shunam, and Other Poems, 1829. (8) Fifty Original Hymns, 1833. (9) Hymns for the Chamber of Sickness, 1844. (10) Closet Hymns and Poems, 1844. (11) Infant Breathings, being Hymns for the Young, 1846. (12) Sacred Poetry, 1847.
In addition to those of his hymns which have attained to an extensive circulation, as those named above, and are annotated in this work under their respective first lines, there are also the following in common use in Great Britain and America:—
1. Along my earthly way. Anxiety. In his Sacred Lyrics, third set, 1822, in 8 stanzas of 4 lines. It is given in several collections, but usually in an abbreviated form, and generally somewhat altered.
2. Dark river of death that is [art] flowing. Death Anticipated. Given in his Sacred Lyrics, 3rd set, 1822, p. 39, in 9 stanzas of 4 lines. It is usually given in an abbreviated form, and sometimes as, "Dark river of death that art flowing."
3. Come, sacred peace, delightful guest. Peace. Appeared in his Closet Hymns, &c, 1844, in 4 stanzas of 4 lines.
4. Eternal God, before thy throne, Three nations. National Fast.
5. For Thee we pray and wait. Second Advent.
6. God intrusts to all. Parable of the Talents. This is No. 13 of his Infant Breathings, 1846, in 5 stanzas of 4 lines. It is a simple application of the parable to the life of a child. It is widely used.
7. God is here; how sweet the sound. Omnipresence. Given as No. 9 in his Sacred Lyrics, 1st set, 1820, in 6 stanzas of 4 lines. In the Baptist Hymnal, 1879, No. 45. St. i.-iii. are from this text, and iv. and v. are from another source.
8. How sweet the light of Sabbath eve. Sunday Evening. No. 10 in theCottage Minstrel, 1821, slightly altered.
9. Is there a time when moments flow. Sunday Evening. No. 5 of his Sacred Lyrics, 1st set, 1820, in 7 stanzas of 4 lines.
10. Little travellers Zionward. Burial of Children. No. 25 of his Infant Breathings, &c, 1846, in 3 stanzas of 8 lines. In the Leeds Hymn Book, 1853, it begins with stanza ii., "Who are they whose little feet?"
11. May we, Lord, rejoicing say. National Thanksgiving. Dated 1849 by the author in Spurgeon's Our Own Hymnbook, No. 1008.
12. Music, bring thy sweetest treasures. Holy Trinity. Dated 1837 by the author in Spurgeon's Our Own Hymnbook, No. 167. It is in his Sacred Poetry, 1847.
13. Roll on, thou mighty ocean. Departure of Missionaries. In his Missionary Hymns, 1822, in 4 stanzas of 4 lines. It is in common use in America.
14. Sweet is the light of Sabbath eve. Sunday Evening. In 5 stanzas of 41., from the Cottage Minstrel, 1821, where it is given as No. 10, and entitled "The Cottager's Reflections upon the Sabbath Evening."
15. The light of Sabbath eve. Sunday Evening. In 5 stanzas of 4 lines, as No. 11 in the Cottage Minstrel, 1821, p. 14, and headed, "Solemn Questions for the Sabbath Evening."
16. Wake, harp of Zion, wake again. Missions to the Jews. Dated 1846 by the author in Spurgeon's Our Own Hymnbook. It is in his Sacred Poetry, 1847.
17. When shall the voice of singing? In his Missionary Hymns, 1822. It is in a few American collections.
18. When the worn spirit wants repose. Sunday. No. 18, of his Sacred Lyrics, 1st set, 1820, in 4 stanzas of 4 lines. It is somewhat popular, and is given in several collections in Great Britain and America, as the Baptist Psalms & Hymns, 1858-80; the Church Praise Book, N. Y., 1881, &c.
19. Why should I, in vain repining? Consolation. No. 14 in the 1st set of his Sacred Lyrics, 1820, in 4 stanzas of 4 lines.
-- John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)
Edmeston, James, p. 321, ii. Other hymns are:—
1. O Thou Whose mercy guides my way. Resignation. In his Sacred Lyrics, 1st set, 1820, p. 24, in 3 stanzas of 4 lines, and again in his Hymns for the Chamber of Sickness, 1844.
2. Parting soul, the flood awaits thee. Death anticipated. In his Sacred Lyrics, 1st set, 1820, p. 18, in 3 stanza of 8 lines, and based upon the passage in the Pilgrim's Progress:—"Now I further saw that betwixt them and the gate was a river, but there was no bridge to go over, and the river was very deep."
3. 'Tis sweet upon our pilgrimage. Praise. In hi3 Closet Hymns and Poems, 1846, in 3 stanzas of 4 lines, and headed "An Ebenezer Raided."
4. Welcome, brethren, enter in. Reception of Church Officers. Miller says, in his Singers and Songs, 1869, p. 420:—"This is No. 1 of five hymns supplied by Mr. Edmeston, at the request of a friend, for insertion in a provincial hymn-book, on the subject of admitting members," but he does not give the name of the book, neither have we identified It. The hymn, as given in the New Congregational Hymn Book, 1859, No. 840, is in 5 stanzas of 4 lines, of which Millet says stanza iii. is by another hand.
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology, Appendix, Part II (1907)