Twells, Henry


b Ashte(a)d, nr Birmingham, Warwicks 1823, d Bournemouth, Dorset 1900. School in Birmingham; St Peter’s Coll Cambridge (BA 1848). Ordained in 1849, he was Curate of Gt Berkhamsted 1849–51 and then the first Headmaster of Godolphin (Grammar) Sch at Hammersmith, W London, 1856–70, which he established as a front-rank boarding school. He returned to parish ministry in 1870 as Rector (briefly) of Baldock, nr Stevenage, Herts; then from 1871 of Waltham-on-the-Wolds nr Melton Mowbray, Leics (also Hon Canon of Peterborough from 1884). His last 10 years were then spent in Bournemouth, Dorset, where the winters were kinder to his health and where he built and partly endowed St Augustine’s Ch. His Hymns and other Stray Verses appeared posthumously in 1901, as did his Sermons on Hymns (etc; 16 hymns including Te Deum and a powerful exposition of When I survey) and a separate memoir by Dr W Clavell Ingram, also in 1901. While sometimes churchy (but anti-Roman), his preaching was often both biblical and eloquent. Although his other hymns are virtually forgotten with the exception of the searching Not for our sins alone (which almost uniquely asks forgiveness for our prayers), his fame seems assured by the one which is included here and still in most other hymn-books. Routley saw him as one with ‘a very searching and powerful imagination’; a ‘swimmer-against-the-stream…who did not quite fit into the Tractarian picture…a Victorian who should be looked at again by editors’. The ‘Standard’ A&M had 7 of his hymns, including the dramatic The voice of God’s creation found me. His 6 (or 12) lines on ‘time’, inscribed on a clock-case in Chester Cathedral, are also often quoted: ‘When as a child I laughed and wept, time crept…’. No.221.

Hymns and songs by Twells, Henry

Number Hymn Name
221 At evening, when the sun had set