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Updated 06/04/2013

 

Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow


Thomas Ken

Thomas Ken (July 1637 – 19 March 1711), English churchman, was the most eminent of the English non-juring bishops, and one of the fathers of modern English hymnology. 

Ken was born at Little Berkhampstead, Herts, the son of Thomas Ken of Furnival's Inn, who belonged to the old Ken family of Ken Place, in Somerset; his mother was a daughter of the now forgotten poet, John Chalkhill, who (according to Izaak Walton) was a friend of Edmund Spenser. Ken's step-sister, Anne, married Izaak Walton in 1646, a connection which, from his boyhood, brought Ken under the refining influence of this gentle and devout man.

In 1652 Ken entered Winchester College, and in 1656 became a student of Hart Hall, Oxford. He gained a fellowship at New College in 1657, and proceeded B.A. in 1661 and M.A. in 1664. He was for some time tutor of his college; but the most characteristic reminiscence of his university life is the mention made by Anthony Wood that in the musical gatherings of the time Thomas Ken of New College, a junior, would be sometimes among them, and sing his part.

Ordained in 1662, he successively held the livings of Little Easton in Essex, Brighstone (sometimes called Brixton) in the Isle of Wight, and East Woodhay in Hampshire; in 1672 he resigned the last of these, and returned to Winchester, being by this time a prebendary of the cathedral, and chaplain to the bishop, as well as a fellow of Winchester College.

He remained there for several years, acting as curate in one of the lowest districts, preparing his Manual of Prayers for the use of the Scholars of Winchester College (first published in 1674), and composing hymns. It was at this time that he wrote, primarily for the same body as his prayers, his morning, evening and midnight hymns, the first two of which, beginning "Awake, my soul, and with the sun" and "Glory to Thee, my God, this night," are well known. The latter is often made to begin with the line "All praise to Thee, my God, this night," but in the earlier editions over which Ken had control, the line is as first given. Both of these hymns end with a doxology beginning "Praise God, from whom all blessings flow," which is widely sung today by itself, often to the tune Old 100th.

Ken was brief­ly chap­lain to Prin­cess Ma­ry, and lat­er to the Brit­ish fleet. He be­came Bi­shop of Bath and Wells in 1685. He was one of sev­er­al bi­shops im­pris­oned in the Tow­er of Lon­don for re­fus­ing to sign James II’s “De­clar­a­tion of In­dul­gence” (hop­ing to re­store Ca­thol­i­cism in Eng­land); he was tried and ac­quit­ted. Ken wrote much po­e­try, pu­blished post­hu­mous­ly in 1721.


Lyrics by Thomas Ken

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.