Dr. Samuel Stennett was born in Exeter in 1727. An accomplished scholar, “His proficiency in Greek, Latin and Oriental tongues and extensive acquaintance with sacred literature, are so abundantly displayed in his valuable works that they cannot fail to establish his reputation for learning and genius.” He moved among the social elite in London, and was friend and supporter to the reigning monarch, George III. Despite these connections, he refused political opportunities to devote himself to ministry, and received his Doctor of Divinity from King’s College, Aberdeen in 1763. Stennett ministered at the Baptist Church on Little Wild street as his father’s assistant for ten years, and for 37 years as its pastor after his father’s death.
In 1787, Stennett penned the lyrics to this week’s addition to my ongoing series, Then Sings My Soul: The Hymns of My Youth. I often recall the first verse and the refrain from this hymn, but don’t recall the remaining verses… the memories of this hymn from my youth tend to suggest that its tune most often came from a tape player, though I don’t recall now whether it was a cassette or an 8-track. There — I’ve dated myself again.
On Jordan’s Stormy Banks I Stand
On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand,
And cast a wishful eye
To Canaan’s fair and happy land,
Where my possessions lie.
I am bound for the promised land,
I am bound for the promised land;
Oh who will come and go with me?
I am bound for the promised land.
O the transporting, rapturous scene,
That rises to my sight!
Sweet fields arrayed in living green,
And rivers of delight!
There generous fruits that never fail,
On trees immortal grow;
There rocks and hills, and brooks and vales,
With milk and honey flow.
O’er all those wide extended plains
Shines one eternal day;
There God the Son forever reigns,
And scatters night away.
No chilling winds or poisonous breath
Can reach that healthful shore;
Sickness and sorrow, pain and death,
Are felt and feared no more.
When I shall reach that happy place,
I’ll be forever blest,
For I shall see my Father’s face,
And in His bosom rest.
Filled with delight my raptured soul
Would here no longer stay;
Though Jordan’s waves around me roll,
Fearless I’d launch away.