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Alfred H. Miles, ed. The Sacred Poets of the Nineteenth Century. 1907.

By Critical and Biographical Essay by Alfred H. Miles

John Ellerton (1826–1893)

JOHN ELLERTON was born in London on the 16th of December, 1826, and was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge. Taking Holy Orders, he became Curate of Eastbourne, and successively Vicar of Crewe Green 1860, Rector of Hinstock 1872, of Barnes 1876, and of White Roding 1886. He published “Hymns for Schools and Bible Classes” 1859, and acted as co-editor with Bishop How in the production of “Church Hymns,” published by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge in 1871, ten years later publishing his “Notes and Illustrations of Church Hymns” (1881). In 1888 he collected his scattered poems, and published them in a small volume, entitled “Hymns, Original and Translated,” from which volume the following selections are taken. His principal prose works are “The Holiest Manhood” (1882) and “Our Infirmities” (1883). He died on the 15th of June, 1893.

It is as a hymn-writer and translator that he takes his place in this volume; for as a writer of poetic hymns he stands in the front rank. His original hymns number about fifty, and his translations about ten; and, according to Julian, they are all of them in general use. The best of these are characterised by elevation of tone, dignity of movement, and devoutness of spirit. The solemn side of nature and life seems to have impressed him most; and though he could be bright and joyous at times, as in his translation “Sing Alleluia forth in duteous praise,” the hush of the evening hour seems to have inspired him more frequently than the gush of morning song. Mr. Julian, in his “Dictionary of Hymnology,” already referred to, says, “His sympathy with nature, especially in her sadder moods, is great; he loves the fading light and the peace of eve, and lingers in the shadows. Unlike many writers who set forth their illustrations in detail, and then tie to them the moral which they wish to teach, he weaves his moral into his metaphor, and pleases the imagination and refreshes the spirit together.” “Hymns, Original and Translated” is a volume no hymn-lover should be without.