Kelly, Thomas, B.A., son of Thomas Kelly, a Judge of the Irish Court of Common Pleas, was born in Dublin, July 13, 1769, and educated at Trinity College, Dublin. He was designed for the Bar, and entered the Temple, London, with that intention; but having undergone a very marked spiritual change he took Holy Orders in 1792. His earnest evangelical preaching in Dublin led Archbishop Fowler to inhibit him and his companion preacher, Rowland Hill, from preaching in the city. For some time he preached in two unconsecrated buildings in Dublin, Plunket Street, and the Bethesda, and then, having seceded from the Established Church, he erected places of worship at Athy, Portarlington, Wexford, &c, in which he conducted divine worship and preached. He died May 14, 1854. Miller, in his Singers & Songs of the Church, 1869, p. 338 (from which some of the foregoing details are taken), says:—
"Mr. Kelly was a man of great and varied learning, skilled in the Oriental tongues, and an excellent Bible critic. He was possessed also of musical talent, and composed and published a work that was received witli favour, consisting of music adapted to every form of metre in his hymn-book. Naturally of an amiable disposition and thorough in his Christian piety, Mr. Kelly became the friend of good men, and the advocate of every worthy, benevolent, and religious cause. He was admired alike for his zeal and his humility; and his liberality found ample scope in Ireland, especially during the year of famine."
Kelly's hymns, 765 in all, were composed and published over a period of 51 years, as follows:—
(1) A Collection of Psalms and Hymns extracted from Various Authors, by Thomas Kelly, A.B., Dublin, 1802. This work contains 247 hymns by various authors, and an Appendix of 33 original hymns by Kelly.
(2) Hymns on Various Passages of Scripture, Dublin, 1804. Of this work several editions were published: 1st, 1804; 2nd, 1806; 3rd, 1809; 4th, 1812. This last edition was published in two divisions, one as Hymns on Various Passages of Scripture, and the second as Hymns adapted for Social Worship. In 1815 Kelly issued Hymns by Thomas Kelly, not before Published. The 5th edition, 1820, included the two divisions of 1812, and the new hymns of 1815, as one work. To the later editions of 1820, 1826, 1836, 1840, 1846, and 1853, new hymns were added, until the last published by M. Moses, of Dublin, 1853, contained the total of 765.
As a hymn-writer Kelly was most successful. As a rule his strength appears in hymns of Praise and in metres not generally adopted by the older hymn writers. His "Come, see the place where Jesus lay" (from "He's gone, see where His body lay"),"From Egypt lately come"; “Look, ye saints, the sight is glorious"; "On the mountain's top appearing"; "The Head that once was crowned with thorns"; "Through the day Thy love has spared us"; and “We sing the praise of Him Who died," rank with the first hymns in the English language. Several of his hymns of great merit still remain unknown through so many modern editors being apparently adverse to original investigation. In addition to the hymns named and others, which are annotated under their respective first lines, the following are also in common use:—
i. From the Psalms and Hymns, 1802:—
1. Grant us, Lord, Thy gracious presence. Commencement of Divine Worship.
2. Jesus, Immortal King, go on [display]. Missions.
3. Saviour, through the desert lead us. Divine Guidance Desired.
4. The day of rest once more [again] comes round. Sunday.
5. We've no abiding city here. Seeking Heaven.
ii. From the Hymns on Varous Passages of Scripture, first edition, 1804 :—
6. Boundless glory, Lord, be thine. Praise for the Gospel.
7. By whom shall Jacob now arise? Epiphany.
8. Glory, glory to our King. Praise to Christ as King.
9. How pleasant is the sound of praise. Praise for Redemption.
10. How sweet to leave the world awhile. In Retirement, or For a Retreat.
11. Inform I long had bowed the knee. Jesus, the Saviour, or Praise for Salvation.
12. It is finished! sinners, hear it. Good Friday.
13. Jesus, the Shepherd of the sheep. The Good Shepherd.
14. Let reason vainly boast her power. Death.
15. Poor and afflicted, Lord, are Thine. Affliction.
16. Praise we Him to Whose kind favour. Close of Service.
11. Spared a little longer. Safety in God.
18. Stricken, smitten, and afflicted. Passiontide.
ii. From the Hymns, &c, second edition, 1806:—
19. Far from us be grief and sadness. Joy of Believers.
20. Give us room that we may dwell. Missions.
21. Glory, glory everlasting. Praise of Jesus.
22. God has.turned my grief to gladness. Joy after Sorrow.
23. Happy they who trust in Jesus. Peace in Jesus.
24. Hark, the notes of angels singing. Angels praising Jesus.
25. Hark! 'tis a martial sound. Christian Life a Warfare.
26. I hear a sound [voice] that comes from far. The Gospel Message.
27. Jesus is gone up on high. Divine Worship.
28. Now [O] may the Gospel's conquering power. Home Missions. In the 1853 edition of the Hymns it begins “O may the Gospel's conqu'ring force."
29. O Zion, when I think on thee. Desiring Heaven.
30. Praise the Saviour, ye who know Him. Praise of Jesus.
31. See from Zion's sacred mountain. The Fountain of Life.
32. The atoning work is done. Jesus the High Priest.
33. Zion is Jehovah's dwelling. The Church of God.
34. Zion stands by hills surrounded. The Safety of the Church.
35. Zion's King shall reign victorious. Missions.
iv. From the Hymns, &c, 3rd edition, 1809:—
36. Behold the Temple of the Lord. The Church a Spiritual Temple.
37. Blessed Fountain, full of grace. Fountain for Sin.
38. Brethren, come, our Saviour bids us. Holy Communion.
39. Fly, ye seasons, fly still faster. Second Advent Desired.
40. God of Israel, we adore Thee. Evening.
41. Gracious Lord, my heart is fixed. Trust and Peace.
42. Hark, a voice! it comes from heaven. Death.
43. Hark, that shout of rapt'rous joy. Second Advent.
44. If our warfare be laborious. Labour and Rest .
45. Lo, He comes, let all adore Him. Missions.
46. Nothing know we of the season. Time of Second Advent uncertain.
47. O had I the wings of a dove. Holiness and Heaven desired.
48. O where is now that glowing love. Despondency.
49. Our Father sits on yonder throne. God the Father.
50. Ours is a rich and royal Feast. Holy Communion.
51. Shepherd of the chosen number. Safety in the
52. We're bound for yonder land. Life, a Voyage.
53. Welcome sight! the Lord descending. The Advent.
54. What is life? 'tis but a vapour. Death anticipated.
55. Who is this that comes from Edom? Ascension.
56. Why those fears ? Behold 'tis Jesus. Stilling the Sea.
57. Without blood is no remission. Passiontide.
58. Yes, we trust the day is breaking. Missions.
v. FromHymns: Not before Published, 1815:—
59. Behold the Lamb with glory crowned. Exaltation of Christ.
60. God is love, His word has said it. God is Love.
61. God of our salvation, hear us. Opening or Close of Divine Worship.
62. In Thy Name, O Lord, assembling. Commencement of Divine Worship.
63. Keep us, Lord, O [and] keep us ever. Divine Worship.
64. Let sinners saved give thanks, and sing. Praise for Salvation.
65. Praise the Lord Who died to save us. Passiontide.
66. Salvation is of God alone. God the Author of Salvation.
67. Saviour, come, Thy [saints] friends await Thee [are waiting] . Second Advent desired.
68. Sweet were the sounds that reached our ears. Divine Mercy.
69. We'll sing of the Shepherd that died. The Lost Sheep.
70. When we cannot see our way. Trust and Peace.
71. Who is this that calms the ocean? Stilling the Sea.
vi. From the Hymns on F. Passages of Scripture, &c, eds. 1820 and 1826 :-—
72. Grace is the sweetest sound. Divine Grace.
73. Now let a great effectual door. Missions.
74. Now may the mighty arm awake. Missions.
75. Now may the Spirit from above. Home Missions.
76. Sing, sing His lofty praise. Praise of Jesus.
77. Sound, 6ound the truth abroad. Missions.
78. Speed Thy servants, Saviour, speed them. Departure of Missionaries.
vii. From the Hymns on Various Passages, &c, 1836:—
79. Come, O Lord, the heavens rending. Prayer for Blessings.
80. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. The Second Advent.
viii. From the Hymns on Various Passages, &c, circa 1845:—
81. Joyful be the hours today. Sunday.
82. Lord, behold us few and weak. Opening of Divine Service.
83. Meet Thy people, Saviour, meet us. Meetings for Prayer.
84. Saviour, send a blessing to us. Prayer for Blessings.
85. Sing of Jesus, sing for ever. Praise of Jesus.
ix. From the Hymns on Various Passages, &c, 1853:—
86. Precious volume, what thou doest. Holy Scripture.
87. Unfold to us, O Lord, unfold. Divine aid to reading Holy Scripture.
All these hymns, together with those annotated under their respective first lines are in the 1853 edition of Kelly's Hymns published in Dublin by M. Moses, and in London by Simpkin, Marshall & Co. Kelly's musical editions are issued by the same publishers.
-- John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)
Kelly, Thomas, p. 615, i. Other hymns in common use are:
1. Behold the Man! How glorious He. (1809.) Good Friday.
2. Jesus the [Thou] Shepherd of the Sheep. (1804.) Good Shepherd.
3. Saved ourselves by Jesu's blood. (1802.) For a Revival.
4. Saviour, 'tis to [unto] Thee. (1853*.) Lent.
5. See the vineyard lately planted. (1806.) Missions. Sometimes given as "See, O Lord, the vineyard planted."
6. Sing aloud to God our strength. (1809.) Praise to the Father.
7. Sing, sing His lofty praise. (1820.) Praise to Jesus. Sometimes as "Hail our eternal King" (p. 615, No. 76).
8. Sing of Him Who bore our guilt. (1853*.) Praise to Jesus.
9. Sing we praise to God above, God our Saviour, &c. (1815.) Praise for Divine Mercy.
10. Sing we praise to God above, Sing we praise, &c. (1853*.) Praise.
11. Sons of Zion, raise your songs. (1820-26) The Exalted Saviour.
12. The Lord Himself will keep. (1809.) From “We're bound for yonder land" (sec p. 615, No. 52.)
13. The God [Lord] of glory dwells on high. (1809.) Humility and Love of Christ.
14. The people of the Lord Are on their way, &c. (1820.) Life a Pilgrimage.
15. Thus saith God of His Anointed. (1809.) Missions.
16. 'Tis to us no cause of sorrow. (1815.) Resignation.
17. To the Ark away, or perish. (1815.) Safety in Jesus only.
18. To our Lord a throne is given. (1838.) Christ the King.
19. Trust ye in the Lord for ever. (1853*.) Trust in God.
20. We'll sing in spite of scorn. (1806.) Christmas. From this "The long-expected morn" is taken.
21. What tongue can tell, what fancy paint. (1806.) Saints in Glory
22. What were Sinai's awful wonders. (1809.) Advent.
23. Whence those sounds symphonious? (1815.) Christmas.
24. While in the [this] world we still [yet] remain. (1806.) Communion of Saints.
25. Yes, 'tis a rough and thorny road. (1809.) Resignation. Sometimes given as "Though rough and thorny be the way."
The dates given above are those of the various editions of Kelly's Hymns. The date 1853* indicates that the hymn is in the 1853 ed. of the Hymns, but had also appeared in a previous edition which we have not seen.
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology, Appendix, Part II (1907)