John Cennick

 •  2 min. read  •  grade level: 7
(1718-1755) Moravian Hymn #170 (verse 2 only)
John Wesley once wrote: “On Friday, March 1739, I came to Reading, where I found a young man who had in some measure known the powers of the world to come. I spent the evening with him and a few of his serious friends, and it pleased God much to strengthen and comfort them.” He was speaking of John Cennick who was born December 12, 1718, at Reading, Berkshire, of a family which on his father’s side were Quakers. He was strictly brought up until he was thirteen, at which time he went to London to seek a trade. This had a bad effect on his life and he became a wild and a reckless lad, of warm feelings and somewhat headstrong in character. He was taken up with dancing, card playing and the theater. One day as he walked the streets of London he felt a deep conviction of sin which brought him to despair. He tried infidelity and open sin and then he turned to penance. For three long years he labored under a bad conscience. While reading something George Whitfield had written God brought light to his dark soul. In 1739 he began to preach Christ to the colliers at Kingswood. He linked up with Wesley and Whitfield in their preaching tours, but in 1745 he took his place with the Moravians. His later life was spent in the north of Ireland. His sincere and spiritual piety has been indicated by all who have commented on his life. He preached with unction.
He returned to London June 28, 1755, in feeble condition of health, and died there on July 4, 1755, at the age of 37. He speaks in one hymn of how he fought against the power of grace:
“The more I strove against its power,
I felt its weight and guilt the more;
Till late I heard my Savior say,
Come hither, soul. I am the way.”
Hymn 170 is compositely composed, with Cennick supplying verse 2 and Charles Wesley verses 1, 4 and 6, and Martin Madan verses 3 and 5.