It’s always fascinating to me when we dive into the lives of the people who wrote the hymns and carols we sing each Sunday in church. Many of them led remarkable lives and continue to teach us through the faith they upheld and the music they shared.
Benjamin Russel Hanby was born in 1833 in Rushville, Ohio. His father was a conductor on the Underground Railroad (of which many believe Benjamin Hanby played a part), helping slaves escape to freedom in Canada.
In his somewhat short life, he graduated from college, became a United Brethren minister, started a singing school, and worked as editor for a publishing company (hymnary.org).
He died before he turned 40 in 1867 (the year of Canada’s birth as a nation). In that time period, he wrote over 500 songs and hymns! What’s incredible to me is that he wrote both this amazing carol above and the Christmas ditty, Up On the Housetop. It seems extremely incongruous.
This hymn is well-loved because it takes us through the entire life of Christ, missing only His imminent return one day. What a great hymn to teach children, giving them both doctrine and Biblical history at the same time.
As we embark on a new year, let’s work to keep our focus on the Gospel and on Christ’s work here on earth, every single day.