Niles, Nathaniel, was b. Sept. 15, 1835, and educated for the legal profession. He practised at Providence, Rhode Island. His hymn, "Precious promise God hath given" (Promise of Rest), was written whilst travelling in a street car, circa 1871, and is given in I. D. Sankey's Sacred Songs and Solos, 1878.
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology, Appendix, Part II (1907)
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Precious promise God hath given. N. Niles. [The Divine Guide.] Concerning this hymn and its writer, S. W. Duffield says in his English Hymns, 1886, p. 461:—
"This well-known ‘Moody and Sankey' hymn was written by Mr. Nathaniel Niles, a resident of Morristown, New Jersey, and, at that time, a lawyer in New York City. Mr. Niles was born at South Kingston, Rhode Island, September 15th, 1835. He composed these verses on the margin of a newspaper in the railway car while on his way to business."
The hymn was published in The Episcopalian; and again in P. Bliss's Gospel Songs, 1874, with music by Bliss. The text and music in I. D. Sankey's Sacred Songs and Solos, are from the Gospel Song.
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)