1718 - 1755 Author of "Be Present at Our Table, Lord" John Cennick was born at Reading, Berkshire, in the year 1717. He became acquainted with Wesley and Whitefield, and preached in the Methodist connection. On the separation of Wesley and Whitefield he joined the latter. In 1745, he attached himself to the Moravians, and made a tour in Germany to fully acquaint himself with the Moravian doctrines. He afterwards ministered in Dublin, and in the north of Ireland. He died in London, in 1755, and was buried in the Moravian Cemetery, Chelsea. He was the author of many hymns, some of which are to be found in every collection.
--Annotations of the Hymnal, Charles Hutchins, M.A. 1872.
Cennick, John, a prolific and successful hymnwriter, was descended from a family of Quakers, but brought up in the Church of England. He assisted J. Wesley and then G. Whitefield in their labours for a time, and then passed over to, and died as a minister of, the Moravian Church. Born at Reading, Dec. 12, 1718, he was for some time a land surveyor at Reading, but becoming acquainted with the Wesleys in 1739, he was appointed by J. Wesley as a teacher of a school for colliers' children at Kingswood in the following year. This was followed by his becoming a lay preacher, but in 1740 he parted from the Wesleys on doctrinal grounds. He assisted Whitefield until 1745, when he joined the Mora¬vians, and was ordained deacon, in London, in 1749. His duties led him twice to Germany and also to the North of Ireland. He died in London, July 4, 1755. In addition to a few prose works, and some sermons, he published:— (1) Sacred Hymns, for the Children of God in the Days of their Pilgrimage, Lond., J. Lewis, n.d. (2nd ed. Lond., B. Milles, 1741), Pts. ii., iii., 1742; (2) Sacred Hymns for the Use of Religious Societies, &c, Bristol, F. Farley, 1743; (3) A Collection of Sacred Hymns, &c, Dublin, S. Powell, 3rd ed., 1749; (4) Hymns to the honour of Jesus Christ, composed for such Little Children as desire to be saved. Dublin, S. Powell, 1754. Additional hymns from his manuscripts were published by his son-in-law, the Rev. J. Swertner, in the Moravian Hymn Book, 1789, of which he was the editor. There are also 16 of his hymns in his Sermons, 2 vols., 1753-4, some being old hymns rewritten, and others new.
Many of Cennick's hymns are widely known, as, "Lo, He cometh, countless trumpets;" “Brethren, let us join to bless;" "Jesus, my all, to heaven is gone;" "Children of the heavenly King;" "Ere I sleep, for every favour;" "We sing to Thee, Thou Son of God;" and the Graces: " Be present at our table, Lord;" and "We thank Thee, Lord;" &c. Some of the stanzas of his hymns are very fine, but the hymns taken as a whole are most unequal. Some excellent centos might be compiled from his various works. His religious experiences were given as a preface to his Sacred Hymns, 1741. In addition to the hymns named, and others annotated under their first lines, the following are in common use:—
1. Be with me [us] Lord, where'er I [we] go. Divine Protection. [1741.]
2. Cast thy burden on the Lord. Submission. [1743.]
3. Not unto us, but Thee alone. Praise to Jesus. [1743.]
4. Thou dear Redeemer, dying Lamb. Priesthood of Christ. [1743.]
5. We sing to Thee, Thou Son of God. Praise to Jesus. [1743.]
6. When, 0 dear Jesus, when shall I? Sunday Evening. [1743.]
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)