George Washington Bethune was born in New York City. Ordained in the Dutch Reformed Church, he held pastorates in Utica, N.Y., Philadelphia and Brooklyn from 1827 until illness forced his retirement in 1859. A highly respected scholar and a man of extraordinary literary background, he was offered positions as chancellor of New York University and provost of the University of Pennsylvania. However, he declined both because he preferred to be a preacher of the gospel. In 1862 he went to Italy for his health. He died suddenly, in Florence, after having preached there in the Scottish church that morning. Bethune penned the words to "There Is No Name So Sweet on Earth." His admonition to his sons and sons-in-law was "My sons, preach the Gospel. Tell dying sinners of a Savior. All the rest is folly."
Because his parents were poor, John Cawood was not able to afford much formal education while young. Providentially, this did ruin his chances of higher education and in 1801 he graduated from Oxford University, becoming a clergyman in the Church of England. He wrote a number of hymns. Among them was a Christmas carol about the appearance of the angels at Christ's birth. "Hark! what mean those holy voices." It ends with the lines:
Let us learn the wondrous story
Of our great Redeemer's birth;
Spread the brightness of His glory
Till it cover all the earth.