Joseph Stennett (1663-1713)

 •  2 min. read  •  grade level: 10
Hymns #77, 88, 239.
This “earliest of English hymn writers” was born at Abingdon, Berks., England, in 1663. He received a superior education at the Grammar School of Wallingford, and at age 22 moved to London. In 1688 he married Susanna, a daughter of George Guilt, a French Protestant refugee. The next year he became identified with the “Seventh Day Baptists” (not to be confounded with the “Adventists”) at Devonshire Square, London.
Someone has said, “It is a little difficult to keep the genealogy of this Stennett family perfectly clear, especially as more than one wrote hymns and handed them down for singing among people who took very little pain to keep literary titles distinct.” Also, “Though grace does not run like blood in the veins, from one generation to another, yet the virtue of the prayers, and godly example of Christians, does often descend through the hearts of their children to succeeding ages. A forcible illustration of this is given in the genealogy of the Stennetts.” (2 Tim. 1:55When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also. (2 Timothy 1:5)).
The beginning of the line was Edward Stennett, whose son Joseph was born in 1663. Edward was a dissenting minister and suffered persecution. His son Joseph was also a minister of the gospel and to him a son was born in 1692 whom he also named Joseph. This second Joseph was said to be a zealous Christian from early life. To him was born, at Exeter, England in 1727, a son named Samuel. He (Samuel) in his young days assisted his father in a Baptist Chapel at Little Wild Street, London. Later he took over this, work completely and continued for 37 years.
Hymns 77 and 88 are positively identified by Julian as those of the first Joseph Stennett (born 1663). Due to an error in dating #77 to the year 1790, it was assigned to Samuel; but the “Dictionary of Hymnology” (John Julian) gives the date as 1709 and Samuel was born about 1727. Had the hymn been written in 1790 it would have to be that of Samuel, as Joseph died in 1713. Hymn 239 was assigned by the Little Flock to a James Stennett, but there is no record of a James in the history of the Stennett family, so it is considered that of Joseph.
Joseph died July 11, 1713, and among his last words were: “I rejoice in the God of my salvation, Who is my strength and God! “ So now he is in the presence of Him of Whom he wrote:
“Jesus, O Name divinely sweet!
How soothing is the sound!
What joyful news, what heavenly power,
In that blest Name is found!”