Samuel Stennett

 •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 8
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IN the "Little Flock hymn-book" there are three hymns ascribed to "Stennett"—77, 88 and 239, which were written by three different individuals —Samuel, Joseph and James, respectively. They were all related, so must have been a family of hymn-writers. "It is a little difficult," a writer says, "to keep the genealogy of this Stennett family perfectly clear, especially as more than one wrote hymns for their own comfort, and handed them down for singing among people who took very little pains to keep literary titles distinct.”
Edward Stennett, who began the line, was "a dissenting minister who suffered persecution, and for a short time imprisonment, because of his enthusiastic espousal of the cause of the Commonwealth," says a biographer. "His son and grandson were both named Joseph, and this Joseph had a son Samuel whose son was also named Joseph. All the men of these five generations were ministers; then this remarkable line ceased.”
Samuel, the subject of our story, was born in the year 1727, in Exeter, England, where his father was pastor of a church. When this Samuel was ten years old, his father removed to London, where he became the minister of a congregation meeting in Little Wild Street, "As the young man grew up he assisted his father in the pastoral care of the parish," his biographer says. He succeeded his father in this field, where he continued to labor in the care of souls till his death, in August, 1795.
What a great pleasure it must have been to his godly father to see his son walking in his footsteps in the service of the Lord. It is not always so, alas; for many fathers and mothers have to mourn over some of their children who do not follow in their steps as they seek to follow Christ. This was so in the case of the prophet Samuel. "His sons walked not in his ways," the Scripture account says. And the dissatisfied people of Israel were not above reminding him of it: "Thy sons walk not in thy ways," they complain (1 Sam. 8:3-53And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment. 4Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, 5And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations. (1 Samuel 8:3‑5)). It was bad enough for him to know that his sons were walking in unseemly ways, but to have it thrown up in his face must have made the aged Samuel's heart sad. Nothing causes godly parents more pain than to see their children walking in forbidden paths, and their own influence as Christians injured before the world by it. Remember this, dear boys and girls; and for this, if for no higher reason, seek to follow in your Christian parents' footsteps.
Samuel Stennett was an excellent scholar. "He gained the degree of Doctor of Divinity from the University of Aberdeen, and was possessed of fine literary ability, and had great influence among those who maintained themselves in usefulness outside of the Church of England." Even the king seems to have given him his entire confidence.
It is related in this good man's biography that "during his last sickness he was compelled to use a gargle with vinegar among the ingredients for a relief to his throat. Once, while taking this, he quoted the words of psalm 69:2121They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink. (Psalm 69:21): 'In my thirst they gave Me vinegar to drink.' Then he added: 'When I reflect upon the sufferings of Christ I am ready to ask, What have I been thinking of all my life? What He did and suffered are now my only support.'
Yes, Christ's work, accomplished on the cross of Calvary, is the sinner's only hope, whether young or old—for a "good man" like Samuel Stennett, or "the chief of sinners," as was Saul of Tarsus. "What He did and suffered" is the only hope for any soul. Is this hope yours, dear reader? Oh, make it now your soul's real trust, and you will have peace with God and a perfect title to heaven. There is none other.
Besides his hymns Samuel Stennett wrote three volumes "On Personal Religion," including a most interesting Memoir. But the books were only published in 1824, that is, long after his death.
One of his finest hymns begins: "Majestic sweetness sits enthroned. He entitled it, "Chief among Ten Thousand; or, the Excellencies of Christ," giving with it the Scripture reference, Sol. 5:10-1610My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand. 11His head is as the most fine gold, his locks are bushy, and black as a raven. 12His eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk, and fitly set. 13His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers: his lips like lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh. 14His hands are as gold rings set with the beryl: his belly is as bright ivory overlaid with sapphires. 15His legs are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold: his countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars. 16His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem. (Song of Solomon 5:10‑16). Of this hymn a writer says: "For many years it has been married to the tune of Ortonville in this country. The music was composed by the venerated Thomas Hastings for children's use, but it was a failure as a Sunday-school piece, and reached its popularity in the prayer-meeting, where it was always welcome." So what suits the grown-ups does not always take with children, no matter how good the thing may be. But the blessed Savior of whom the verses speak is precious to all who believe, even if the little ones prefer to express it by the simpler, "Jesus loves me, this I know.”
May we all, both young and old, know His love to us; and then we will, in return, as the Scripture says, "Love Him because He first loved us.
Sweet Name of Jesus—by Samuel Stennett
Jesus! O name divinely sweet!
How soothing is the sound!
What joyful news, what heavenly power,
In that blest name is found!
Our souls, as guilty and condemned,
In hopeless fetters lay;
Our souls with countless sins defiled,
Of death and hell the prey.
Jesus, to purge away our guilt,
A willing victim fell,
And on His cross triumphant broke
The bands of death and hell.