Williams, William

Williams, William called the "Watts of Wales," was born in 1717, in the parish of Llanfair- ary-Bryn, Carmarthenshire, Wales. His conversion he traced to the preaching of Howel Harris. He left the Established Church at the age of thirty-two, and connected himself with the Methodists, among whom he was recognized as one of their most popular preachers. Gifted with poetical talents of a high order, like Charles Wesley, he consecrated his genius to the cause of his Master. He published the following works: Alleluia (Bristol, 174547, 6 pts.): — The Sea of Glass: — Visible

Farewell: — Welcome to Invisible Things: — and An Elegy on Whitefield, dedicated to the countess of Huntingdon. His death occurred in 1791. Mir. Williams was the author of the hymn "O'er the gloomy hills of darkness,' etc. His best-known hymn--one that is found in so many collections of hymns-is that commencing with the words "Guide me, O thou great Jehovah." The history of this hymn is thus given: Lady. Huntingdon having read one of Williams's books with much spiritual satisfaction, persuaded him to prepare a collection of hymns, to be called the Gloria in Excelsis, for especial use in Mr. Whitefield's Orphans House in America. In this collection appeared the original stanzas of "Guide me, O thou great Jehovah." In 1774, two years after its publication in the Gloria in Excelsis, it was republished in England in Mr. Whitefield's collections of hymns. Its rendering from the Welsh into English is attributed to W. Evans, who gives a translation similar to that found in the present collections of hymns. The hymn was taken up by the Calvinist Methodists, embodying, as it did, a metrical prayer for God's overcoming strength and victorious deliverance in life's hours of discipline and trial, expressed in truly majestic language, in harmony with a firm religious resilience and trust, and a lofty experimental faith. It immediately became popular among all denominations of Christians, holding a place in the affections of the Church with Robinson's "Come, thou Fount of every blessing." The fourth verse is usually omitted:

"Musing on my habitation, Musing on my heavenly home, Fills my heart with holy longing— Come, Lord Jesus, quickly come. Vanity is all I see, Lord, I long to be with thee."

See Butterworth, Story of the Hymns, p. 30-34. (J. C. S.)

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