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Updated 05/28/2013


By Cool Siloam’s Shady Rill

William Gardiner
The pre-Israelite settlement of Siloam is now the Arab community of Silwan in East Jerusalem, south of the Old City. The ancient community that was built around the "serpent-stone", Zoheleth, where Adonijah gave his feast in the time of Solomon, is the site of the Pool of Siloam, where Jesus healed a man blind from birth as described in the Gospel of John, and of the legendary Tower of Siloam, whose collapse is an admonitory omen mentioned in the Gospel of Luke.

The melody is by William Gardiner (1750-1853) with words by Reginald Heber (1783-1826).  William Gardiner (1867-1941) was a Primitive Methodist preacher from Suffolk who was accused of the Peasenhall Murder and underwent two trials for murder, neither of which resulted in a verdict.  In June 1902, Rose Harsent, a servant girl, was found stabbed to death by an unknown assailant. She was unmarried but found to be six months pregnant. It was alleged that Gardiner was the father of her unborn child: local gossip had led to a hearing within his church at which he had been admonished for impropriety. 

Reginald Heber

The police originally thought it was suicide, but, after investigation, Gardiner was arrested and tried twice in 1902 and 1903. The first trail was presided over by Sir William Grantham, the second by Sir John Compton Lawrance. At each trial Gardiner was defended by Henry Fielding Dickens and prosecuted by Ernest Wild. Both times the jury was unable to reach a verdict — it was said that at the first trial the jury was split eleven to one in favor of guilty, and the second eleven to one in favor of not guilty. The prosecution then issued a writ of nolle prosequi. This was distinct from the usual process of a formal acquittal. The consequence of this is that Gardiner is one of the few people in English history to have been tried for murder and to have no verdict ever returned.

Gardiner died in 1941 without having been formally acquitted.

Reginald Heber (21 April 1783 – 3 April 1826) was a Church of England bishop, now remembered chiefly as a hymn-writer.  Heber was born at Malpas in Cheshire. His father, who belonged to an old Yorkshire family, held half the living of Malpas.

eginald Heber showed remarkable promise, and in November 1800 entered Brasenose College, Oxford, where he proved a distinguished student, carrying off prizes for a Latin poem entitled Carmen seculare, an English poem on Palestine, and a prose essay on The Sense of Honour.  In November 1804, he was elected a fellow of All Souls'. After completing his university career, he went on a long tour of Europe.

Having taken holy orders in 1807, he took up the family living of Hodnet in Shropshire. In 1809 he married Amelia Shipley, daughter of the Dean of St Asaph. He was made prebendary of St Asaph in 1812, appointed Bampton lecturer for 1815, preacher at Lincoln's Inn in 1822, and Bishop of Calcutta in January 1823. Before sailing for India he received the degree of D.D. from the University of Oxford.  In India, Bishop Heber laboured indefatigably - not only for the good of his own diocese, but for the spread of Christianity throughout the East. He toured the country, consecrating churches, founding schools and discharging other Christian duties.

His devotion to his work in a trying climate told severely on his health. At Trichinopoly (or Trichy in Tamil) he was seized with an apoplectic fit when in his bath, and died. In Trichy, Bishop Heber College is named after him - and is famous for education and sports. A statue of him, by Chantrey, was erected at Calcutta. Another monument to Heber, also by Chantrey, can be seen along the south wall of the Ambulatory of Saint Paul's Cathedral. Heber is depicted as a kneeling figure in Episcopal robes. The relief on the pedestal represents the prelate confirming converted Indians.

Lyrics by Reginald Heber


By cool Siloam’s shady rill
How fair the lily grows!
How sweet the breath, beneath the hill,
Of Sharon’s dewy rose!

Lo! such the child whose early feet
The paths of peace have trod,
Whose secret heart, with influence sweet,
Is upward drawn to God.

By cool Siloam’s shady rill
The lily must decay;
The rose that blooms beneath the hill
Must shortly fade away.

And soon, too soon, the wintry hour
Of man’s maturer age
Will shake the soul with sorrow’s power
And stormy passion’s rage.

O Thou Whose infant feet were found
Within Thy Father’s shrine,
Whose years with changeless virtue crowned,
Were all alike divine.

Dependent on Thy bounteous breath,
We seek Thy grace alone,
In childhood, manhood, age, and death
To keep us still Thine own.