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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

Thomas Kelly (1769–1854)

ONE of the most prolific as well as one of the most successful of the early hymn-writers of the century was Thomas Kelly (1769–1854). The son of an Irish judge of Common Pleas, he was born in Dublin on the 13th of July, 1769, and was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, after which he studied for the Bar, but ultimately turned his back upon the Law, and took Holy Orders in 1792. He was an earnest preacher of the Evangelical school, and a friend of the Rev. Rowland Hill. Archbishop Fowler interdicted his preaching in Dublin, and finally he seceded from the Church of England and erected places of worship at Athy, Portarlington, Wexford, and other places, where he preached from time to time. In 1802 he published “A Collection of Psalms and Hymns from various Authors,” in which he included thirty-three original hymns; in 1804 “Hymns on Various Passages of Scripture”; and in 1815 “Hymns by Thomas Kelly, not before Published.” According to Julian, Kelly wrote seven hundred and sixty-five hymns, during a period of fifty-one years. All of these hymns are included in the edition of his hymns published in 1853.