Wither, George, or Wyther—spelled in both ways by himself, the first usually, the second occasionally, e.g. in Prince Henrie's Obsequies (1612), and erroneously Withers, was born on June 11th, 1588, at Bentworth, near Alton, Hampshire. He was the only son of George Wither, of Bentworth. His early education was at the Grammar School of Colemore or Colemere, under its celebrated master; John Greaves. After thorough training and discipline here he was entered in 1604 at Magdalen College, Oxford. His tutor was John Warner, subsequently D.D. and Bishop of Rochester. He had only been three years at the University when malicious and ignorant persons persuaded his father that more learning was not required. And so, as he modestly tells us in his… Go to person page >
What ails my heart, that in my breast ? G. Wither. [Sleeplessness.] First published in his Haleluiah; or, Britan's Second Remembrancer. London, 1641, Pt. i., No. 20, in 4 stanzas of 8 lines. It is introduced by the following note:—
"When we cannot sleep at seasonable times, vain musings and want of right meditating on God, is frequently chief cause of unrest. Therefore this meditation directeth to the remedy of such untimely watchfulness."
The hymn is included in Fair's reprint of the Hallelujah in 1857, and thence it passed, with slight alterations, into Kennedy, 1863, No. 845. [William T. Brooke]
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)