Palmer, Ray, an eminent Congregational
minister, son of Judge Thomas Palmer,
was born at Little Compton, R. I., November
12, 1808. At thirteen years of age he
became a clerk in a dry goods store in Boston,
where he identified himself with the
Park Street Congregational Church, whose
pastor, Dr. S. E. Dwight, discerning the
promise of great usefulness in the boy, took
a deep interest in him, inducing him to go
to Phillips Academy, Andover, where he
prepared for Yale College, from which institution
he was graduated in 1820. The
next year he lived in New York City, taking
up the study of theology privately and
supporting himself by teaching in a woman's
college. He taught in a young ladies'
institute at New Haven during 1832-34,
continuing his theological studies and entering
the ministry at the close of this period.
From 1835 to 1850 he was pastor of the
Congregational Church at Bath, Me., and
from 1850 to 1865 he was pastor of the
First Congregational Church of Albany, N.
Y. For thirteen years (1865-78) he lived
in New York City and filled the office of
Corresponding Secretary of the American
Congregational Union. He resigned this
office in 1878 and retired to private life,
making his home in Newark, N. J., until
his death, March 29, 1887. Between
1829 and 1881 he published eleven volumes,
among them Hymns and Sacred
Pieces, 1865, and Hymns of My Holy Hours
and Other Pieces, 1868. About forty of
Dr. Palmer's hymns have found a place in
the various Church hymnals. He is regarded
by many as the greatest hymn writer
that America has produced, and his
hymn beginning "My faith looks up to thee"
as the greatest hymn of American origin.
"He has written more and better hymns
than any other American," says Dr. Duffield,
author of English Hymns. "In their
tender spirit of reverential worship, the
beauty of their poetical conceptions, the
choiceness of their diction, and the gracefulness
of their expression the hymns of
Ray Palmer are unsurpassed by any similar
compositions in the language," says W.
H. Parker in his Psalmody of the Church.
"The best of his hymns, by their combination
of thought, poetry, and devotion,
are superior to almost all others of American
origin." So writes Prof. F. M. Bird
In Julian's Dictionary of Hymnology.
|Come, Holy Ghost, in love
|My faith looks up to thee
|Jesus, these eyes have never seen
|Jesus, thou Joy of loving hearts