|Short Name:||John Mason|
|Full Name:||Mason, John, 1646?-1694|
Mason, John. The known facts of his life are scanty. He was the son of a Dissenting Minister, and the grandfather of John Mason, the author of A Treatise on Self-Knowledge. He was educated at Strixton School, Northants, and Clare Hall, Cambridge. After taking his M.A., he became Curate of Isham; and in 1668, Vicar of Stantonbury, Bucks. A little more than five years afterwards he was appointed Rector of Water-Stratford. Here he composed the volume containing The Songs of Praise, his paraphrase of The Song of Solomon, and the Poem on Dives and Lazarus, with which Shepherd's Penitential Cries was afterwards bound up. This volume passed through twenty editions. Besides the Songs of Praise, it contains six Penitential Cries by Mason, and it is this portion of his work which harmonizes with the compositions of Shepherd. Probably his hymns were used in public worship, and if so, they are among the earliest hymns so used in the Church of England. Some of his hymns are often found in the early Hymn Collections of the 18th century. The most notable work besides this volume is Select Remains of the Rev, John Mason, a collection of sententious and practical sayings and Christian letters, published by his grandson, and much eulogized by Dr. Watts. His friend, Shepherd, who was at Water-Stratford at the remarkable period to which reference is made below, published two of Mason's Sermons, with a preface of his own. Mason was a man of true piety and humility; known for eminent prayerfulness; faithful, experimental, effectual preaching; "a light in the pulpit, and a pattern out of it." His friendship with Baxter, and Shepherd, the Nonconformist Minister of Braintree, probably indicates his sympathies and theological position. Baxter calls him "the glory of the Church of England," and says :—
"The frame of his spirit was so heavenly, his deportment so humble and obliging, his discourse of spiritual things so weighty, with such apt words and delightful air, that it charmed all that had any spiritual relish.”
The close of his life was sensational enough. One night, about a month before his death, he had a vision of the Lord Jesus, wearing on His head a glorious crown, and with a look of unutterable majesty in His face. Of this vision he spoke; and preached a Sermon called The Midnight Cry, in which he proclaimed the near approach of Christ's Second Advent. A report spread that this Advent would take place at Water-Stratford itself, and crowds gathered there from the surrounding villages. Furniture and provisions were brought in, and every corner of the house and village occupied. Most extraordinary scenes occurred, singing and leaping and dancing. The excitement had scarcely died out when the old man passed away (1694), still testifying that he had seen the Lord, and that it was time for the nation to tremble, and for Christians to trim their lamps. His last words were, “I am full of the loving kindness of the Lord."
[Rev. H. Leigh Bennett, M.A.]
The full titles of his Songs of Praise, and the additions thereto, are:—
(1) Spiritual Songs; or, Songs of Praise to Almighty God upon several occasions, 1683. (2) The Song of Songs which is Solomon's first Turned, then Paraphrased in English Verse. Published with the former. (3) Dives and Lazarus, incorporated with the former 1685. (4) Penitential Cries, Begun by the Author of the Songs of Praise, And carried on by another Hand. Licensed and Entered, Sept. 13, 1693. This forms the concluding part of all editions of the Songs of Praise after 1693. The complete work was reprinted by D. Sedgwick in 1859. This reprint was accompanied by a short Memoir. In this reprint Mason's Penitential Cries and Ps. 86 are given under Songs of Praise, pp. 49-61, those under Penitential Cries being all by Shepherd (q.v.). Mason's Life, by John Dunton, was published in 1694, and included some miscellaneous poems; and another, by Henry Maurice, in 1695, in which are two hymns not found elsewhere. We may add that Mason published a Catechism, with some Verses for Children. Of this, however, no copy is known to exist.
Mason's Songs are commonly presented in modern hymnbooks in the form of centos, which are sometimes compiled from a single Song, and in other instances from several Songs. Many of these are annotated under their respective first lines. The rest include:—
1. Blest be my God that I was born. Praise for the Gospel.
2. Lord, for the mercies of the night. Morning.
3. Lord of my life, Length of my days. Praise for Deliverance from Immediate danger of Death.
4. My God, a God of pardon is. Praise for Pardon of Sin.
5. My God, my only Help and Hope. Praise for Providence.
6. My God, my reconciled God. Praise for Peace of Conscience.
7. My God was with me all this night. Morning.
8. Thou wast, 0 God; and Thou wast blest. Praise for Creation.
9. Thousands of thousands stand around. Praise. A cento from Songs i. and ii.
In Griffith, Farran & Co.'s Ancient and Modern Library, No. 12, Giles Fletcher's Christ's Victory and Triumph, &c, 1888, p. 208 (edited by W. T. Brooke), a short hymn by Mason is given from Multum in Parvo: or the Jubilee of Jubilees, 1732, beginning "High praises meet and dwell within." It is an indifferent example of Mason's powers as a writer of sacred verse.
-- John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)
Mason, J., p. 716, ii. Mason's Midnight Cry, stated on p. 717, i. as having been preached in 1694, was delivered in 1691. The 1st ed. of this sermon is:—
“The Midnight Cry. A Sermon Preached On the Parable of the Ten Virgins . . . . By J. M., M.A., Rector of W. in the County of B., London: Nathanael Ranew . . 1691.
This edition has no hymns. To the 4th ed. in 1692, published by the same Nathanael Ranew, there was added:—
The Fourth Edition, with the Addition of two Hymns for the Coming of Christ. By the same Author.
The first of these hymns begins:—
"The evening of the Day
Portends a dismal night,"
and is in 12 stanzas of 8 lines. The second hymn is:—
"Come, come, my dearest, dearest Lord,
Make haste and come away."
This is in 14 stanzas of 4 lines. Of the first and fifth eds. there are copies in the Brit. Museum, and of the first in the Julian Collection of the Church House, London.
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology, New Supplement (1907)
|Texts by John Mason (75)||As||Instances|
|A living stream as crystal clear||John Mason (Author)||2|
|Again the day returns of holy rest||John Mason (Author)||1|
|Ah Lord! ah Lord! what have I done||John Mason (Author)||11|
|Alas! for I have seen the Lord||John Mason (Author)||5|
|Almighty God, how hast thou born||John Mason (Author)||2|
|And dost thou come, O blessed Lord||John Mason (Author)||2|
|Are thy toils and woes increasing||John Mason (Author)||3|
|As now the sun's declining rays||Rev. J. Mason (Author)||1|
|As the bright sun's meridian blaze||Mason (Author)||4|
|Awake, my soul, and with the sun||John Mason (Author)||1|
|Away dark thoughts, awake, my joy||John Mason (Author)||5|
|Blessed are the feet which bring the news||John Mason (Author)||2|
|Blest are the feet which bring the news||John Mason (Author)||2|
|Blest be my God that I was born||John Mason (Author)||17|
|Blest day of God! most calm, most bright||John Mason (Author)||90|
|Come, come, my dearest Lord||John Mason (Author)||2|
|Come dearest Lord, and feed thy sheep||John Mason (Author)||32|
|Come, let us praise our Master's hand||John Mason (Author)||2|
|Come then my dearest, dearest, Lord||John Mason (Author)||2|
|Fair are the feet that bring the news||John Mason (Author)||6|
|Forty days of Eastertide||John Mason (Author)||1|
|Glory to God the Father be||John Mason (Author)||9|
|God's furnace doth in Zion stand||John Mason (Author)||2|
|Great God, who dost the world command||John Mason (Author)||2|
|Health is a jewel dropt from heaven||John Mason (Author)||1|
|How beautiful the feet that bring||John Mason (Author)||2|
|How beautiful the morning||John Mason (Author)||8|
|How shall I sing that majesty which angels do admire?||John Mason (Author)||16|
|How sweetly rest thy saints above||John Mason, d. 1694 (Author)||2|
|I read that sins are clouds||John Mason (Author)||2|
|I sojourn in a vale of tears||John Mason (Author)||18|
|I that am drawn out of the depth||John Mason (Author)||2|
|In thee I live, and move, and am||John Mason (Author)||2|
|Is not the hand of God in this||John Mason (Author)||2|
|I've found the pearl of greatest price! My heart doth sing for joy||John Mason (Author)||107|
|I've found the precious Christ of God||John Mason (Author)||2|
|Lord, for the mercies of the night||John Mason (Author)||22|
|Lord, I have cast up the account||John Mason (Author)||2|
|Lord, in the day thou art about||John Mason (Author)||3|
|Lord of my life, length of my days||John Mason (Author)||1|
|Lord, thou hast overcome||John Mason (Author)||2|
|Lord, what is man that lump of sin||John Mason (Author)||2|
|My God a God of pardon is||John Mason (Author)||2|
|My God, my only help and hope||John Mason (Author)||6|
|My God, my reconciled God||John Mason (Author)||5|
|My God was with me all this night, And gave me sweet repose||John Mason (Author)||11|
|My Jesus is gone up to heaven||John Mason (Author)||2|
|My Lord, my Love, was crucified||John Mason (Author)||25|
|My Savior is gone up to heaven||John Mason (Author)||2|
|My soul doth magnify the Lord, My spirit doth rejoice (Mason)||John Mason (Author)||46|
|Now from the altar of my heart||John Mason (Author)||166|
|O day of God most calm, most bright||John Mason (Author)||2|
|O God of grace, who hath restored||John Mason (Author)||2|
|O hear me, Lord, for I am poor||John Mason (Author)||1|
|O praise the Lord, praise him, praise him||John Mason (Author)||1|
|O that I had an angel's tongue||John Mason (Author)||10|
|O thou, at whose almighty word||Mason (Author)||1|
|O Thou, whose scales the mountains weigh||John Mason (Author)||7|
|So foolish, so absurd am I||John Mason (Author)||5|
|The world can neither give nor take||John Mason (Author)||11|
|There is a stream, there is a stream, there is a stream whose gentle flow||John Mason (Author)||3|
|There is a stream, which issues forth from God's eternal Throne||John Mason (Author)||4|
|Thou, Lord, by mortal eyes unseen||John Mason (Author)||24|
|Thou, Lord, who daily feedest thy sheep||J. Mason (Author)||2|
|Thou Lord, who raised'st heaven and earth||John Mason (Author)||2|
|Thou wast, O God, and thou was blest||John Mason (Author)||6|
|Thousands of thousands stand around||John Mason (Author)||6|
|Thy blessing, Lord, doth multiply||John Mason (Author)||2|
|What are the heavens, O God of heaven||John Mason (Author)||3|
|What have I in this barren land||John Mason (Author)||9|
|What shall I render to my God for all his gifts to me (Mason)||John Mason (Author)||3|
|What shall I render to the Lord, For all his benefits to me?||John Mason (Author)||1|
|Where God doth dwell, sure heaven is there||John Mason (Author)||2|
|Who knows but such a one as I||John Mason (Author)||4|
|With flowing eyes and bleeding hearts||John Mason (Author)||8|