Frederick Whitfield (1827-1904)

 •  2 min. read  •  grade level: 8
Hymns #169, 184,
This author, being the youngest child of Thomas and Jane Whitfield, was born January 7, 1827 (or 1829) at Threapwood in Shropshire, England. He was brought up in close connection with the gospel of God’s grace and was saved early in life. What a blessing it is for those brought up in Christian homes to lay hold of the blessed gospel while young and tender!
He graduated from Trinity College (Dublin University) in 1859 and became a deacon in the Church of England. He was in sequence made priest, curate (Otley, Yorkshire), and took parishes of St. John’s, Bexley Heath, London, and St. Mary’s at Hastings. He was also connected with Irish Church Missions and was both an author and poet. Based on the words of 1 Peter 2:77Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, (1 Peter 2:7), “Unto you therefore which believe He is precious,” he wrote:
“I need Thee, precious Jesus! for I am full of sin:
My soul is dark and guilty, my heart is dead within.
I need the cleansing fountain where I can always flee,
The blood of Christ most precious, the sinner’s perfect plea.
“I need Thee, blessed Jesus! and hope to see Thee soon,
Encircled with the rainbow and seated on Thy throne.
There, with Thy blood-bought children, my joy shall ever be
To sing Thy praise, Lord Jesus, to gaze, my Lord, on Thee.”
How good to the soul it is to value the Lord Jesus our Savior! In his two hymns in the Little Flock it is the coming day “of cloudless ray” and the gathering of all the “blood-bought saints on high” singing the new eternal song with Jesus ever nigh.
Mr. Whitfield was first married in 1861 to Miss Sarah Garforth who died five years later, leaving him with three small children. He remarried in 1871 to Miss Sophia Butler who died after twelve years, three small children being left of this marriage. At that time he so felt the weight of things that he wrote:
“Oh lighten, Lord, this darkened life,
Lord, shine upon my way!
A broken heart, a darkened home,
Oh God, is this Thy way?”
In 1899 his health began to fail, so he retired to spend his closing days at Norwood, England. He became absent from the body and present with the Lord on September 13, 1904. He was buried beside his second wife in Kensal Green Cemetery, London. When the “shout” is heard he shall arise, “no more to view Thy chosen few in selfish strife divided,” but we with him shall then “drink in peace the living grace that gave them hearts united.”