Josiah Conder (1789-1855)

 •  2 min. read  •  grade level: 8
Congregationalist
Hymn #150.
Josiah Conder, the fourth son and sixth child of Thomas Conder, was born in Falcon Street, Aldersgate, London, England, on September 17, 1789. His grandfather Dr. John Conder was a noted Dissenting clergyman. His father Thomas was also a strong Nonconformist and so Josiah grew up in this environment. At five years of age he was inoculated for smallpox and the disease blinded him in his right eye. Fearing the possible loss of the other eye he was sent to Hackney for electrical treatment. His physician became his teacher, and carried him through the fundamentals of French, Latin and other studies. At fifteen he entered into his father’s bookstore as an assistant. In 1810 we find him, in co-operation with Ann and Jane Taylor and Eliza Thomas (who later became his wife) and some others, in publishing a book called “The Associate Minstrels.” It secured a second edition in 1812. He also edited a newspaper called “The Patriot,” but was never entirely out of financial problems, but went on encouraged by his Lord. He once had a fall from his horse which laid him aside in much pain and suffering, but at that time he could write:
“Fix my heart on things above:
Make me happy in Thy love.”
It is not known to the writer as to how Mr. Conder was brought to Christ, but there is definite evidence of his confidence in the sovereign grace of God, as the following lines from his pen show:
“ ‘Tis not that I did choose Thee,
For, Lord, that could not be;
This heart would still refuse Thee,
Hadst Thou not chosen me.
Thou, from the sin that stained me,
Hast washed and set me free,
And to this end ordained me,
That I should live to Thee.”
But to what heights do we rise in hymn #150! What makes this hymn so wonderful is that it directs the worshipping heart to the blessed Person of Christ Himself, in fullest measure. No direct reference is even made to the work of Christ, blessed and necessary as that is for our salvation. The inscrutability of the eternal Son, and yet revealing the Father to us, is so fully expressed. The Spirit, as with all other hymns, must lead to give this out at the right moment, and what holy elevation of soul there is on such occasions!
He went home to be with Christ at St. John’s Wood, London, December 27, 1855.
‘The higher mysteries of Thy fame
The creature’s grasp transcend;
The Father only Thy blest name
Of Son can comprehend.”