John Cennick

 •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 7
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THE hymn, "Lo, He comes, from heaven descending," has made English speaking Christians everywhere familiar with the name of Cennick; for, while he was only part author of this hymn in its present form, his association with it has endeared his memory to all who love our Lord's appearing. A well-known hymn writer says, "This hymn has passed through so many transformations that its history is somewhat complicated. It is supposed to have been originally written by the Rev. John Cennick, and it was sung by the congregation of the Moravian Chapel, Dublin, in 1750. It was first printed in the 1752 edition of Cennick's Collection of Sacred Hymns. Since the date of Wesley's adaptation many imitations exist, testifying to the power and beauty of the original, which has inspired so many efforts to rival it. In Anglican Hymnology this is put as No. 3 in the First Rank Hymns.
Lo, He Comes From Heaven Descending—by John Cennick
Lo, He comes, from heav'n descending—
Once for favor'd sinners slain!
Thousand thousand saints attending,
Swell the triumph of His train!
Jesus comes, and comes to reign!
See the Savior, long expected,
Crowned with glory, now appear,
While His saints, by man rejected,
All His heav'nly glory share!
See the Son of God appear!
Israel's race shall now behold Him,
Full of grace and majesty!
They who set at naught and sold Him,
Pierced Him, nailed Him to the tree,
Now in glory,
Shall their great Messiah see!
'Tis Thy heav'nly bride and Spirit,
Jesus, Lord, that bid Thee come,
All Thy glory to inherit,
And to take Thy people home!
All creation
Travails, groans, till Thou shalt come!
Yea, Amen! let all adore Thee,
High on Thine exalted throne!
Savior, take Thy power and glory-
Claim the kingdoms for Thine own!
Come, Lord Jesus!
Hallelujah! come, Lord, come!
John Cennick was born in Reading, England, December 12, 1718. His parents were Quakers, but in spite of this advantage, "he was wild and reckless as a young man, when he made frequent visits to London," a writer says. Indeed, it requires more than Christian parentage to make a Christian of any one. "Ye must be born again," is the declaration of the "teacher come from God," as Nicodemus confessed Him to be, and whom we know as "God manifest in the flesh.”
But, though grace cannot be imparted by natural generation, the God of all grace has promised to hear prayer in behalf of our loved ones, and the intercessions of Cennick's parents were rewarded in his conversion.
While in London, Cennick formed a friendship with a Mr. Kinchin whose influence over him became great, and resulted in his conversion. He made the acquaintance of the Wesleys in 1739, and was appointed by John Wesley as teacher of a school for the children of colliers at Kingswood. He also began to act as a "lay preacher," but in 1740 he had a disagreement with Wesley as to points of doctrine, and withdrew from the work. During the following five years he assisted Whitefield in his evangelistic labors. Later he joined the Moravian Brethren, with whom he labored until his death in London, July 4th, 1755, at the early age of thirty-seven.
The following is popularly considered the best of Mr. Cennick's many hymns. "The majority of the singing-books in Christendom for the last hundred years have contained it," said a writer in 1892; and, he continues, "What a history a good hymn has! Think of doing something that will cheer God's dear children, as this praise-song has, for a hundred and fifty years already!" Only lately the present writer was told by a shut-in invalid what a blessing and joy the reading of some of our best-known hymns had been to him.
Encouragement to Praise—by John Cennick
Children of the heavenly King,
As ye journey, sweetly sing;
Sing your Savior's worthy praise,
Glorious in His works and ways.
Ye are traveling home to God
In the way the fathers trod;
They are happy now, and ye
Soon their happiness shall see.
Shout, ye little flock, and blest!
You on Jesus' throne shall rest;
There your seat is now prepared;
There your kingdom and reward.
Fear not, brethren; joyful stand
On the borders of your land;
Jesus Christ, your Father's Son,
Bids you undismayed go on.
Lord, submissive make us go,
Gladly leaving all below;
Only Thou our leader be,
And we still will follow Thee.