Thomas Kelly (1769-1855) wrote over 700 hymns over a period of nearly 60 years. His father was a judge and he had prepared to sit for his bar exam. Edmund Burke was a family friend and he frequently stayed in the Burke home during his studies. At this time, he developed an interest in theology and the study of Greek and Hebrew. To the disappointment of his family, Kelly changed his study from law to theology.
He was ordained into the Church of Ireland at the age of 23 along with three other men, Henry Marturin, Walter Shirley, and John Walker. These four men shared a strong Evangelical understanding of Scripture. That is, salvation comes only through the blood of Christ and faith in Him. Mixing their theology with the over confidence of young men and they soon found themselves in conflict with the established church. Eventually the Archbishop of Dublin, Rev Fowler banned them from preaching at any sanctioned church in Dublin.
They eventually found several homes and small chapels where they could hold their services and meetings. In 1794 these four were joined by two dissenting pastors and a Moravian (also a non-participant in the official church). They were able to raise enough funds for a small chapel on York St in Dublin. However, the nature of “non-conformist” is well… a bit fracturist. Each man developed their own following which were known as Kellyites, or Walkerites. Mr. Kelly had enough money from his own inheritance and by marriage he was able to finance the building of several chapels for his followers to meet in.
Just as the Wesley’s didn’t intend to start a new church but rather preferred to work within the existing structure and reform it from within, Kelly never set out to establish a completely independent church and only did so after his was banned by the established church. Even after officially leaving the Church of Ireland, he would seek out sympathetic clergy to work with.
His theology was typical of Evangelicalism of the time. It started with a close and careful reading of Scripture to learn of God and grow to love Him. This was to the exclusion of “received wisdom” of the Church of Ireland or the Roman Church. In other words, sola scriptura of the early reformers like Martin Luther and John Calvin.
His rhetorical skills made him a popular minister. This popularity often brought him into conflict with both and Church of Ireland and even more significantly the Roman Church in Ireland. The Roman church prelates engaged in a over 20 year “pamphlet war” with Kelly. He was accused of essentially poaching or actively converting Catholic parishioners into his Protestant Evangelicalism. His response was that he didn’t actively recruit anyone from Catholic Church, but rather welcomed them as they came in seeking answers they were unable to get from their local priests.
Kelly’s approach to worship was flexible and some may even say liberal in the best sense. He didn’t insist all ties had to be severed between his members and the Church of Ireland or the Roman Church. They were free to attend both as they transitioned or until their questions were answered. This proved both a strength and a weakness. While it could provide a nurturing environment, it didn’t establish a strong level of loyalty to a particular church or leader. By the time of Kelly’s death his church had largely dissolved and dissipated. The same experience followed his school friends and their churches.
Even if his church didn’t survive, Kelly’s hymns most certainly have. Here are just a few of his hymns with various settings. Most of these are still in use wherever traditional hymns are still sung.
|Come, See the Place Where Jesus Lay||Exeter||https://youtu.be/8f9lauETH6E||Samuel Wesley|
|Come, See the Place Where Jesus Lay||Innsbruck||https://youtu.be/C6ydHyO7dzY||Heinrich Isaak|
|God of Our Salvation, Hear Us||Wilmont||https://youtu.be/aMXRVE_e1nE||Carl M von Weber|
|Hark, Ten Thousand Harps and Voices||Harwell||https://youtu.be/62d1gxW5jaQ||Lowell Mason|
|In Thy Name, O Lord Assembling||Alvan||https://youtu.be/CND9b2ClhUE||Lowell Mason|
|Look, Ye Saints, the Sight is Glorious||Coronae||http://youtu.be/UYn_QNABEl4||William H Monk|
|Look, Ye Saints, the Sight is Glorious||Cwm Rhondda||https://youtu.be/etJ8i1peKfo||John Hughes|
|Look, Ye Saints, the Sight is Glorious||Cwm Rhondda||https://youtu.be/4-4X7ZLg8C8||John Hughes|
|Look, Ye Saints, the Sight is Glorious||Hail the King||http://youtu.be/YvcS9dlJLa8||Unknown|
|On The Mountain Top Appearing||Zion||https://youtu.be/kqOX0rQobAQ||Thomas Hastings|
|Praise the Savior, Ye Who Know Him||Praise the Savior||https://youtu.be/TwD8B2uWAi0||traditional German melody|
|Savior, Come, Thy Saints Are Waiting||Regent Square||https://youtu.be/FLiYZFW_E-0||Henry Smart|
|Stricken, Smitten and Afflicted||Autumn||https://youtu.be/uxjBpjX9Zpc||Louis von Esch|
|Stricken, Smitten and Afflicted||Passion||https://youtu.be/ZFApMR5HkfA||John H Spielman|
|Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted||O mein Jesu, ich muss sterben||https://youtu.be/7I18VCfFI7c||Geistliche Volkslieder|
|Th’ Atoning Work is Done||Christ Church||https://youtu.be/swN8K4qDm2g||Charles Steggall|
|The Head That Once Was Crowned with Thorns||St Magnus||http://youtu.be/QlNpl6sukFU||Jeremiah Clark|
|The Head That Once Was Crowned with Thorns||Burlington||https://youtu.be/S4wTEoaKwvA||John Freckleton Burrowes|
|The Lord is Risen Indeed||Rialto||https://youtu.be/-I9E_Ubqtx0||George Root|
|The Lord is Ris’n Indeed||Pentonville||https://youtu.be/xFntqRLOcPY||Thomas Lindley|
|Thro’ the Day Thy Love Hath Spared us||Evening Hymn||https://youtu.be/6sLiHaX1Ya8||George A MacFarren|
|Through the Day thy Love hath Spared Us||Albert||https://youtu.be/PdTTw5nrjnM||Heinrich Albert|
|Through the Day thy Love hath Spared Us||DANA||https://youtu.be/rznFE2W6yOY||Anton Peter Berggren|
|Through the Day thy Love hath Spared Us||Lewars||https://youtu.be/d5vznAwjuTk||J F Ohl|
|Through the Day thy Love hath Spared Us||Through the Day||https://youtu.be/T3WbdpFD3oQ||Joseph Barnby|
|We Sing The Praise of Him Who Died||Bow Brickhill||https://youtu.be/zYh3nuHH9jw||Sydney Nicholson|
|We Sing The Praise of Him Who Died||Breslau||https://youtu.be/B2sEYC1HNf8||Unknown|
|We’ve No Abiding City Here||Andre||https://youtu.be/TThvLb7hPpI||unknown|
|Who is This That Comes From Edom||Edom||https://youtu.be/68yzJg3gZ5g||Albert Peace|
|Zion Stands With Hills Surrounded||Mt Zion||https://youtu.be/34vDW_IE1Hw||John Spielman|
|Zion Stands With Hills Surrounded||Zion Stands||https://youtu.be/Ccw7sk5ndC0||Thomas Hastings|
These are all affiliate marketing links. I receive a small commission from Amazon if you make a purchase. This costs you nothing and goes a long way to supporting this channel and website.
Here are some of my favorite Hymnals:
Presbyterian 1955 Hymnbook: http://amzn.to/2zSRdpL
Episcopal 1940 Hymnal: http://amzn.to/2DEOl1H
Broadman 1940 Hymnal: http://amzn.to/2C1WuwK
Methodist 1939 Hymnal: http://amzn.to/2CfJ1Wq
Pilgrim 1935 Hymnal: http://amzn.to/2DDvbJC
Now Sings My Soul, New Songs for the Lord by: Linda Bonney Olin: http://amzn.to/2DQ6gUy
Choice Hymns of the Faith 1945 http://amzn.to/2Dx97nA
Book of Psalms for Singing https://amzn.to/2ygM00b (1912 Psalter is unavailable)
Here are my new projects:
Hymns Ancient and Modern https://amzn.to/3dfaHIY
J S Bach Riemenschneider 371 Harmonized Chorales http://amzn.to/2DSy5f9
Dictionary of Hymnology: http://amzn.to/2BxPabk
American Hymns Old and New https://amzn.to/3fqkkVU