The Piety Of Joseph Hart As Reflected In His Life, Ministry, And Hymns -- By: Brian Golez Najapfour
PRJ 4:1 (January 2012) p. 201
The Piety Of Joseph Hart As Reflected
In His Life, Ministry, And Hymns
In June 5, 1768, John Hughes preached a sermon during the funeral service for his brother-in-law, Joseph Hart. In that sermon, which was based on 2 Timothy 4:7, the Baptist Hughes appealed four times to his audience to remember their dear and godly departed friend Hart: “O ye saints of God, he [Hart] has a right to be remembered of you all.”1 Indeed, Hart, regarded by one of his admirers as “the most spiritual of the English hymn-writers,” deserves to be remembered.2 Yet, sadly, today his name is almost forgotten. In fact, since 1910, no major biography has been written about him,3 and, since 1988, no major article on him has been published.4 His hymns, even among evangelical churches, are rarely sung. This article hopes to contribute to the study of Hart by examining his piety as reflected in his life, ministry, and hymns.
A Sketch Of Hart’s Life:
“What He For My Poor Soul Has Done”5
Joseph Hart was born in London about 1712. Not much is known about his family and his early life, except that according to his memoir
PRJ 4:1 (January 2012) p. 202
he “had the happiness of being born of believing parents.”6 Andrew Kinsman, Hart’s close friend, who delivered an oration at Hart’s interment and who knew his parents personally, said that Hart was “the son of many prayers.”7 Hart’s godly parents, who were Calvinists and members of an Independent congregation, no doubt earnestly prayed for their son, especially for his salvation. Yet the Lord did not answer their fervent prayers until their son was nearly forty-five years old. Recalling his early life, Hart writes: “I imbibed the sound doctrines of the gospel from my infancy...but the impressions were not deep, nor the influences lasting, being frequently defaced and quenched by the vanities and vice of childhood and youth.”8 How painful it must have been for Hart’s parents to see their young son living in sin. But they did not lose hope. They persevered in their prayers, begging God to save their son.
Piety Without Faith (c. 1732 To c. 1740):
“My Soul I Pampered Up In Pride”9
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