Olivers, Thomas a noted English hymnologist, and one of Wesley's most eminent ministers, was born of humble parentage at Tregonan, Montgomeryshire, England, in 1725. Left an orphan at five, he was reared on a farm by a relative, who gave him some education, and with whom he lived until eighteen years of age, when he was bound as an apprentice to a shoemaker. Having received no religious education save a few forms, he early commenced a career of abandoned wickedness, from which he was at last saved by conversion through the preaching of Mr. Whitefield. From that time forth he was a most humble, devoted, and laborious Christian. After a while he was authorized to preach, and his ministrations were abundantly successful both in conversions and in persecutions. In October, 1753, he was sent by John Wesley into Cornwall to preach, whence he was removed to London. At the Conference of 1756 he was appointed to Ireland, and the next year again moved to London. During this year he married happily. After filling many of the principal stations in England, he was-sent to Scotland in 1764, whence he went to Ireland, and preached at Dublin, and then again over to England. After several years spent in the ministry with Mr. Wesley, he was by the latter put in charge of the printing, an important part of which was the Arminian Magazine, which, under Mr. Wesley, he conducted with ability and success down to August, 1789, when Mr. Wesley became dissatisfied, and discharged Olivers. He afterwards resided in London Inlhorinsg as his age permitted, until his death. March 7, 1799. He was a man of robust mind and great versatility of talents; he was an able and convincing preacher, a masterly controversialist, and his writings, both in prose and verse, possess much merit. His noble hymn called Leoni, and beginning
"The God of Abrah'm praise,"
had reached its thirtieth edition before his death, and some others nearly as many. Mr. Fletcher speaks in high terms of him "as a writer, a logician, a poet, and a composer of sacred music;" and some of his tunes, written for his own hymns, will long be cherished in "the praises of Israel." Montgomery says of Olivers's Leoni, "There is not in our language a lyric of more majestic style, more elevated thought, or more glorious imagery; its structure, indeed, is very attractive; but, like a stately pile of architecture, severe and simple in design, it strikes less on the first view than after deliberate examination, when its proportions become more graceful, its dimensions expand, and the mind itself grows greater in contemplating it." It is said that this fine hymn had great influence on the mind of Henry Martyn when contemplating his important missionary career. Olivers was one of the most eloquent defenders of Mr. Wesley and the Wesleyan cause against the attacks of Toplady, Richard and Rowland Hill, and others. Olivers's separately published hymns, tracts, etc., number sixteen, and many of them were of marked ability and usefulness. Christophers, in his Epworth Singers and other Poets of Methodism (N. Y. 1876, 12mo), thus describes Olivers's personal appearance, as furnished by an eyewitness of the great Cornwall out-door service in September, 1773: "The other figure standing by Wesley was that of a man rather taller and less neatly made; a man in the prime of life, with a face that could not be; looked at without interest, open, well-formed, and man]y. The eye that kindled and flashed as the mighty music of the hymn rose from the enthusiastic multitude was the eye of a thinker, keen, telling of logical wariness and ready skill, and giving out, in harmony with its kindred features, expressions of genius, humor boldness, ardent temper, and vivid imagination." See Lives of Early Methodist Preachers (ed. by Thomas Jackson), 1:195; Stevens, Hist. of Methodism, 2:41 sq.; 3:143 sq.; Southey, Life of Wesley, ch. 25; Christophers, Epworth Singers, ch. 11.