Saturday, 28 March 2015

"Oft in danger, oft in woe" Henry Kirke White, 1785-1806

Two authors are responsible for the hymn, "Oft in danger, oft in woe." The first verse was written by a young man, Henry Kirke White, who died October 19, 1806, while still a student in Saint John's College, Cambridge University. The other verses were written by a fourteen-year-old girl, Frances Sara Fuller-Maitland, who successfully carried the spirit of White's fragmentary lines into the subsequent verses, first published by her mother, Mrs. Bertha Fuller-Maitland in 1827. 

White was born in Nottingham, England, March 21, 1785. Not wanting to become a butcher, like his father, he became apprenticed to a weaver when only fourteen years old, afterward entering a law office. His genius as a poet began to blossom while he was still a boy. A book of his poems that he published at the age of seventeen showed that he had become irreligious. 

A dear friend of his, named Almond, had become a Christian, and told White that they could no longer associate together, because of White's scorn of the Christian life. This hurt White so deeply that he exclaimed: "You surely think worse of me than I deserve !" But Almond's courageous stand brought White to his senses, and gradually the young poet realized his lost condition and found his way to the Saviour of mankind. The story of his struggle toward the light is pictured in his hymn, "When marshaled on the nightly plain." After his death in college they found on some mathematical papers his lines, beginning, "Much in sorrow, oft in woe."  

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