John Ralston Clements Hymned the Love of Christ

Dan Graves, MSL

John Ralston Clements Hymned the Love of Christ

John Ralston Clements was born on this day, November 28, 1868 in Newry, Ireland. However, it was in the United States that he made his mark. He was just two years old when his family sailed to America. The immigrants settled in Liberty, New York; and as he grew older, John entered completely into the life of his adopted country.

When he was seventeen, he came to Binghamton, New York. During the last week of the following year, 1886, evangelist Dwight L. Moody conducted services at Binghamton's first Baptist Church on Chenango Street. It was a turning point for John. He listened to Moody and was converted to Christ.

During the next 60 years, John poured out his joy and concern for soul-winning by writing over 5,000 hymns. He was in close contact with nearly everyone involved with presenting the Gospel of Christ in the United States whether through sermon or song. One of them, Daniel B. Towner, the song leader for Moody's meeting in Binghamton, set the music to John's first hymn, "Man the Life-Boat," in 1893.

Since then more than 70 other composers have set music to Clements' poetry, creating hymns such as "No Night There," "Lord send us Forth," "Service Is Our Watchword," and the popular "Somebody Did a Golden Deed:"

Somebody filled the days with light,
Constantly chased away the night;
Somebody told the love of Christ,
Told how His will was sacrificed,
Was that somebody you?
Was that somebody you?

When Dr. John A. Davis incorporated the Practical Bible Training School in Lestershire (now Johnson City), New York, near Binghamton on December 6, 1900, John R. Clements was chosen president of the board. He also directed Reuben A. Torrey's Montrose Bible Conference.

When John Clements died in 1946, his faith assured him that he was going to a land where there was no night. As he had written in his hymn "No Night There":

There they need no sunshine bright,
In "that city foursquare,"
For the Lamb is all the light,
And there is "no night there."

Bibliography:

  1. Bilhorn, Peter Philip, editor. Hymns of His Grace. no.1. For the evangelist, church, Sunday school, and young people's society. Comp. and ed. by P. P. Bilhorn, F. G. Fischer, John R. Clements, W. Stillman Martin. Chicago, Illinois: Bilhorn Bros, 1907.
  2. Holden, David. Select Seed from the Granary. Private publication.
  3. "John Ralston Clements." http://www.cyberhymnal.org.
  4. Wells, Amos R. A Treasure of Hymns; Brief biographies of 120 leading hymn- writers and Their best hymns. Boston: W. A. Wilde company, 1945.
  5. Various internet articles.

Last updated June, 2007

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