Mason, John. The known facts of his life are scanty. He was the son of a Dissenting Minister, and the grandfather of John Mason, the author of A Treatise on Self-Knowledge. He was educated at Strixton School, Northants, and Clare Hall, Cambridge. After taking his M.A., he became Curate of Isham; and in 1668, Vicar of Stantonbury, Bucks. A little more than five years afterwards he was appointed Rector of Water-Stratford. Here he composed the volume containing The Songs of Praise, his paraphrase of The Song of Solomon, and the Poem on Dives and Lazarus, with which Shepherd's Penitential Cries was afterwards bound up. This volume passed through twenty editions. Besides the Songs of Praise, it contains six Penitential Cries by Mason, and it i… Go to person page >
Fair are the feet which bring the news. J. Mason. [Missions.] First published in his Spiritual Songs; or, Songs of Praise, 1683, p. 36, as "A Song of Praise for a Gospel Ministry," in 5 stanzas of 8 lines. (Sedgwick's reprint, 1859, p. 26). In its full form it is unknown to modern hymn-books. The following centos therefrom are in common use:—
1. Fair are the feet which bring the news. In Longfellow and Johnson's Hymns of the Spirit, Boston, U.S., 1864, No. 343 is compiled from stanzas i., iii. and iv., considerably altered.
2. Bless'd are the feet which bring the news. This was given in Bickersteth's Christian Psalmody, 1833, No. 429, and is altered from stanzas i., iii.-v.
3. How blest the feet which bring the news. In Hall's Mitre, 1836, No. 117 is stanzas i., v. altered.
4. How beautiful the feet that bring. This altered form of stanzas i.—iii., v. is by the Rev. J. Keble. It was given in the Salisbury Hymn Book, 1857, No. 188, the Sarum Hymnal, 1868, Kennedy, 1863, and others.
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)