Brewer, Jehoiada, the "Sylvestris" of the Gospel Magazine, 1776, &c, was born at Newport, Monmouthshire, in 1752. He was educated for commercial pursuits, but subsequently became a Congregational Minister, and as such was pastor at Rodborough, Gloucestershire; at Sheffield, to which he went in 1783; at Carr's Lane Chapel, Birmingham (1798); and at the Livery Street Chapel, in the same town. He died Aug. 24, 1817. A Memoir of him appeared in the Evangelical Register, 1835, p. 396. His best-known hymn is—"Hail, Sovereign Love, that first began" (q. v.).
-- John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)
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Hail, sovereign love, that first began. J. Brewer. [Christ the Hiding Place.] First appeared in the Gospel Magazine, Oct. 1776, in 9 stanzas of 4 lines, and signed "Sylvestris." It was given in full in J. Middleton's Hymns, 1793, No. 279; in Williams and Boden, 1801, No. 226; in undated editions of the Lady Huntingdon Collection, No. 328, and others. Rippon, in the 27th edition of his Selection, 1827, No. 172, Pt. ii., set the example of abbreviation, and this example has been followed in almost all modern collections in Great Britain and America. In addition to abbreviated text there are also three altered forms of the hymn:—
1. Hail, sovereign love, that first began. No. 645 in the first edition of Bickersteth's Christian Psalmody, 1833. This had undergone considerable alteration, and further changes were made in the enlarged edition, 1841.
2. Hail, sovereign love, that form'd the plan. This is in somewhat extensive use in America, including Beecher's Plymouth Collection 1855, No. 548; Songs for the Sanctuary, 1865, No. 450, and others.
3. Hail, boundless love, that first began. In the Methodist Free Church Sunday School Hymns, 1860, No. 62.
Full original text in Lyra Britannica, 1867, p. 87.