1720 - 1785 Hymnal Title: Calvin Hymnary Project Author of "That God, who made the world on high" Gibbons, Thomas, was born at Beak, near Newmarket, May 31, 1720; educated by Dr. Taylor, at Deptford; ordained in 1742, as assistant to the Rev. Mr. Bures, at Silver Street Chapel, London; and in 1743 became minister of the Independent Church, at Haberdashers' Hall, where he remained till his death, Feb. 22, 1785. In addition to his ministerial office he became, in 1754, tutor of the Dissenting Academy at Mile End, London; and, in 1759, Sunday evening lecturer at Monkwell Street. In 1760 the College at New Jersey, U.S., gave him the degree of M.A. and in 1764 that of Aberdeen the degree of D.D. His prose works were (1) Calvinism and Nonconformity defended, 1740; (2) Sermons on various subjects, 1762; (3) Rhetoric, 1767; (4) Female Worthies, 2 vols., 1777. Three volumes of sermons were published after his death. His poetical works were:—
(1) Juvenilia; Poems on various subjects of Devotion and Virtue, 1750, was published by subscription. Among the subscribers is found the name of the Rev. Mr. George Whitefield, B.A. It was dedicated to the Countess of Huntingdon, and bears her coat of arms. In this volume are included versions of six of the Psalms, and a few hymns. (2) Hymns adapted to Divine wor¬ship in two books. Book I. Derived from select passages of Holy Scriptures. Book II., Written on sacred subjects and particular occasions, partly collected front various authors, but principally composed by Thomas Gibbons, D.D., 1769. (3) Hymns adapted to Divine worship in two books. Book I. Derived from select passages of the Holy Scriptures. Book II. Written on sacred subjects and particular occasions by Thomas Gibbons, D.D., 1784. (4) The Sermons, published in 1762, included fifteen hymns, one being appended to each sermon. (5) The Christian Minister in three poetical epistles to Philander, 1772. This volume included (i.) Poetical versions of several parts of Scripture, (ii.) Translations of poems from Greek and Latin writers, (iii.) Original pieces on various occasions. (6) An English version of the Latin Epitaphs on the Nonconformist's Memorial, with a poem to the memory of the 2000 ministers ejected in 1662, 1775. (7) Select Portions of Scripture, and Remarkable Occurrences, versified for the Instruction and entertainment of Youth of both Sexes, 1781. Reprinted in America, 1805.
Dr. Gibbons may be called a disciple in hymnwriting of Dr. Watts, whose life he wrote. His hymns are not unlike those of the second rank of Watts. He lacked "the vision and faculty divine," which gives life to hymns and renders them of permanent value. Hence, although several are common use in America, they are dying out of use in Great Britain. The most popular are, "Now let our souls on wings sublime"; "Great God, the nations of the earth"; "Thy goodness, Lord, our souls confess"; "To Thee, my God, whose presence fills." [Rev. W. Garrett Horder]
The less important of Dr. Gibbons's hymns, which are still in common use are:—
1. And be it so that till this hour. Hope. This is No. 50 in Book ii. of his Hymns adapted to Divine Worship, &c, 1769, in 5 stanzas of 4 lines, and headed, "Encouragement against Despair; or, Hope still set before us." Originally a Sacramental hymn in Rippon's Selections, 1787, No 230, it was altered to a general hymn, with special reference to "Hope."
2. Assist us, Lord, Thy Name to praise. Life, a race. In Rippon's Baptist Selections, 1787, No. 326, in 4 stanzas of 4 lines.
3. Eternal life, how sweet the sound. Eternal Life. This is one of three hymns on Titus iii. 7, in his Hymns adapted to Divine Worship, &c, 1784, Book i., No. 156, in 5 stanzas of 4 lines. In the American Dutch Reformed Hymns of the Church, 1869, No. 843 begins with st. ii., "Eternal life, how will it reign?"
4. Father, is not Thy promise pledged? Missions. This is Pt. iii.of his hymn, "Great God, the nations of the earth" (q. v.).
5. Forgiveness, 'tis a joyful sound. Pardon. From his Hymns adapted to Divine Worship, &c, 1769. Book i., No. 69, in 5 stanzas of 4 lines into several modern collections in Great Britain and America. It is based on St. Luke, vii. 47.
6. From winter's barren clods. [Spring.] Appeared in his Hymns, &c, 1784, Book ii., No. 27, in 5 stanzas of 4 lines, and headed, "The Return of the Spring celebrated in the Powerful and Gracious Work of God." In 1787 it was repeated anonymously in Rippon's Baptist Selections, No. 499. The hymn, "Great God, at Thy command, Seasons in order rise," begins with st. iii. of this hymn.
7. Happy the men in ancient days. Public Worship. In his Hymns adapted to Public Worship, &c, 1784.
8. On Zion, his most holy mount. Gospel Feast. From his Hymns adapted for Divine Worship, &c, 1769, Book i., No. 35, in 6 stanzas of 4 lines. It was originally a Sacramental hymn, but in its abbreviated form, as in use in America, that element is eliminated.
9. Our Father, high enthroned above. Lord's Prayer. Appeared in the Bristol Baptist Collection of Ash & Evans, 1769, No. 41, in 9 stanzas of 4 lines. In 1772 it was reprinted in a revised form, and with an additional stanza, in Gibbons's Christian Minister, p. 74.
10. Thy goodness, Lord, our souls confess. Providence and Grace. Appeared in the Gospel Magazine, 1775, and in his Hymns adapted to Divine Worship, &c, 1784, Bk. ii., No. 11, in 7 stanzas of 4 lines. In Dobell's Selections, 1806, st. i.-iv., and vi. were given with alterations, which were not improvements, as No. 9. This arrangement is repeated in modern hymnbooks, including the Baptist Hymnal, 1879, and others.
11. When Jesus dwelt in mortal clay. Jesus our Example. From his Hymns adapted to Divine Worship, &c, 1784, Book i., No. 128, in 9 stanzas of 4 lines into a few American collections, including the Baptist Praise Book, 1871.
The more important of Dr. Gibbons's hymns are annotated under their respective first lines. [William T. Brooke]
-- John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)
Gibbons, Thomas, p. 420, i. From his Hymns, &c, of 1784, are also in common use:—
1. Lord God, omnipotent to bless. Divine Help desired.
2. Now may the God of peace and love. Close of Service. (1769. Pt. i.)
3. O what stupendous mercy shines. Benevolence.
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology, Appendix, Part II (1907)