White, Henry Kirke, a gifted English poet who died early in life, was born in Nottingham, England, March 21, 1785. Very early he manifested a remarkable love for books and a decided talent for composition. But his parents were poor, and he was apprenticed in early boyhood to a stocking weaver, from which uncongenial servitude he escaped as soon as he could and began the study of law; but later he was converted and felt called to the ministry. The story of his conversion from deism to Christianity is briefly but beautifully told in the poem titled "The Star of Bethlehem." He entered St. John's College, Cambridge, in 1805 as a servitor; but died October 19, 1806, in the second year of his college course, when only twenty-one years of age. In… Go to person page >
Awake, sweet harp of Judah, wake. H. K. White. [Heaven.] In Southey's edition of H. K White's Remains, 1807, this hymn is given in 7 stanzas of 4 lines, with the title "In heaven we shall be purified, so as to be able to endure the splendours of the Deity," and accompanied with the following note:—
The last stanza of this hymn was added extemporaneously by Henry one summer evening, when he was with a few friends on the Trent, and singing it as he was used to do on such occasions."
In the few modern collections in which this hymn is found it is given in an abbreviated form. The original text is in Lyra Britannica, 1867, p. 628. [William T. Brooke]
-- John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)