This is my 30th entry in the Lenten Hymn-of-the-Day project. I believe that this one will be known by most of you!
The words were written by Ray Palmer (1808-1887). He attended Phillips Andover Academy (where he and Oliver Wendell Holmes were classmates) and Yale University. After Yale, he was a teacher before being ordained as a Congregational minister, and pastored in Bath, Maine, and Albany, New York. Around 1865, he became Secretary of the Congregational Union. Palmer retired in 1878.
Lowell Mason (1792-1872), the compose of the solid tune, "Olivet" showed an intense interest in music from childhood. He lived in Savannah, Georgia, for 15 years, working as a bank clerk, but pursuing his true love—music—on the side. He studied with F. I. Abel, improving his skills to the point where he began composing his own music. After seeing the success of his work, Mason returned to Boston in 1826. He also became the director of music at the Hanover, Green, and Park Street churches, alternating six months with each congregation. Finally, he made a permanent arrangement with the Bowdoin Street Church, though he still held his job as teller at the American Bank. Music continued to pull on him, though; he became president of the Handel and Haydn Society in 1827. It was in Boston that Mason became the first music teacher in an American public school. In 1833, he co-founded the Boston Academy of Music; in 1838, he became music superintendent for the Boston school system. Lowell Mason wrote over 1,600 religious works, and is often called the “father of American church music.”