Hymnary Friends,

Please pardon this brief interruption, and please consider a gift today to support the work of Hymnary.org. Here's why.

Each month half a million people visit this website for free access to the most complete database of North American hymnody on the planet. But this project does not come without a cost, and we have limited sources of revenue. Twice a year we hold a fund drive, and these drives are critical to our future.

So if you benefit from Hymnary.org, would you consider a donation today? Even small amounts help, and they also let us know you're behind us and support what we do.

Click the Donate button below to be taken to a secure giving site. Or you can make your tax-deductible contribution by sending a check to Hymnary.org at 3201 Burton SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546.

On behalf of the entire Hymnary.org team, our thanks.
Harry Plantinga

Hiram O. Wiley › Texts

Short Name: Hiram O. Wiley
Full Name: Wiley, Hiram O. (Hiram Ozias), 1831-1873
Birth Year: 1831
Death Year: 1873

Wiley, Hiram Ozias. (Middlebury, Vermont, May 20, 1831--January 28, 1873, Peabody [Danvers], Massachusetts). He was a Unitarian layman who practiced law in Peabody from 1855 until his death, and was the author of occasional verse contributed to local newspapers. On May 17, 1865, the South Danvers Wizard published his hymn beginning "He leads us on by paths we did not know," and republished it on May 8, 1867, with a note reading:

Some years ago we published the following poem, which was written for our columns by H.O. Wiley, Esq. Since then it has traverse the country in all directions, without any credit being given either to our paper or to the author. We reproduce it from a Western paper in order to correct several errors that have crept into it. Ed.

It is the only hymn included in the small volume of Wiley's poems published as a memorial to him soon after his death. Its earliest appearance in a hymn book was in the 1873 Supp. to the Unitarian Sunday School Hymn Book, with the first line changed to "God leads us on," etc.

About the same time it reached England, where it passed into a number of collections without the name of the author. In Julian's Dictionary, p. 1647, "J.M" states that it appears as "Anon." in Our Home Beyond the Tide (Glasgow, 1878), and that in Meth. Free. Ch. Hys. (1889), it is attributed to "Count Zinzendorf, about 1750. Tr. H.L.L." (Jane Borthwick) although that attribution is questioned because the hymn could not be found in any of Miss Borthwick's translations. the mistake attribution persisted, however, long enough to be included in the second edition of the Pilgrim Hymnal, in the first decade of this century. Since then the hymn has passed, in its original form and rightly attributed to Wiley, into various other collections, among them the New Hymn and Tune Book (1914), and Hymns of the Spirit (1937).

--Henry Wilder Foote, DNAH Archives

Suggestions or corrections? Contact us