October 29: Joseph Griggs

A Trinity Hymn Written by a Ten Year Old

We really don’t know when Joseph Griggs was born. One source suggests 1720, but others deny any knowledge of his birthday. We do know that his parents were very poor. We know that he was trained for mechanical pursuits.  We know that he became the assistant pastor of an English Presbyterian Church in 1743. There is no mention however of ministerial training or what Presbytery licensed and ordained him. So there is much which is unknown about him,

Four years after joining the ministerial team in London, the senior minister of that church died. With no explanation, Joseph Griggs resigned his position as assistant minister. The next fact we have about him was his marriage to a wealthy widow, with whom he devoted himself to literary pursuits. He would write some forty-three hymns for the church. His hymns were first published in 1756, and republished in 1765, 1806, and 1861!

The one hymn  which is found in the Trinity Hymnal (no. 511) is entitled “Jesus, and shall it ever be.”  What is interesting about this hymn is that Joseph Griggs wrote it at ten years of age! It was altered by Benjamin Francis in 1787. Its words  come from Luke 9:26 where Jesus states, “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him.”  The verses in the hymn from this young lad speak with conviction to many an adult.

Note verse 1, “Jesus, and shall it ever be, a mortal man ashamed of thee?  Ashamed of thee whom angels praise, whose glories shine through endless days!

Or verse 4: “Ashamed of Jesus, that dear Friend on whom my  hopes of heav’n depend! No, when I blush, be this my shame, that I no more revere his name.

And verse 6, “Till then — nor is my boasting vain — till then I boast a Savior slain; and O may  this my glory be, that Christ is not ashamed of me.”

Joseph Gregg died on this day in Presbyterian history, October 29, 1768.

Words to Live By:
Who has not  had the experience of seeing covenant children be an effective testimony to their own parents in our churches? As a retired pastor, I have seen that in a number of my charges. Certainly young Joseph Griggs had a testimony which speaks to adults then and today. Readers, our covenant children are precious  in His sight and are to be ministered to by church officers and lay people. Pray for the covenant children in  your church, for their salvation and spiritual growth.

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