1902 Encyclopedia > Henry Francis Lyte

Henry Francis Lyte
Scottish hymn writer

LYTE, HENRY FRANCIS (1793-1847), a well-known hymn-writer, was born at Kelso, June 1, 1793, received his early education in Ireland, and entered Trinity College, Dublin, in 1812, becoming a scholar of that college in the following year. Having entered deacon's orders in 1815, he for some time held a curacy near Wexford. He did not long remain in Ireland, however, chiefly because of infirm health ; and, coming to England, after several changes he finally, in 1823, settled in the parish of Brixham, where lie laboured until fatal illness interr,,pted his work. In 1844 his health, never robust, gave way ; and he died at Nice on the 20th November, 1847.

Lyte's first work was Tales in, Verse illustrative of several of the Petitions in the Lords Prayer, which was completed during a period of rest at Lymington, but was not published till the year 1826; it drew a word of warns commendation from a competent critic in the Voctes Ambrosiazuv. Ile next published a volume of Poems, chiefly Religious, in 1833, and in the following year a little collection of psalms and hymns entitled The Spirit of the Psalms. These productions were drawn from various sources, but many were his own ; and the idea of the book was to express, in language specially accordant with Christian experience, the leading thoughts contained in the Psalter. Probably one of the best productions of Lyte's pen was a finely appreciative memoir of Henry Vaughan, the "Satirist," which he prefixed to an edition of his works. After his death, a volume of Remains with a memoir was published, and the poems contained in this, with those in Poems, chiefly Religious, were afterwards issued in one volume. In the region of pure poetry Lyte cannot be said to bare taken any special rank ; refinement and pathos, rather than great imaginative power, were the chief marks of his work. As a divine he was evangelical in doctrine, but his ecclesiastical sympathies were with the Oxford school ; as a preacher be was simple, earnest, and graceful in style ; but his chief claim to remembrance lies in the beauty and spfritual elevation of his hymns, some of which may be said to have become classical. The best known are "Abide with me! fast falls the eventide"; "Jesus, I my cross have taken"; "Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven"; and " Pleasant are thy courts above."

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