Above: Logo of the Moravian Church in Stained-Glass
Image Source = JJackman
JOHN CENNICK (DECEMBER 12, 1718-JULY 4, 1755)
British Moravian Evangelist and Hymn Writer
John Cennick died at London, England, on July 4, 1755, aged thirty-seven years and survived by a widow and two children. He had traveled in Germany, England, and Northern Ireland, founding at least forty churches in six years before fever caught up with him.
Cennick came from a historically Quaker family yet grew up Anglican. He became a land surveyor, a profession he abandoned to become a Methodist lay preacher after meeting John and Charles Wesley in 1739. The following year John Wesley appointed Cennick to teach children at a school at Kingswood, England. Yet Cennick fell out with the founder of Methodism almost immediately. Three theological issues separated them:
- Cennick, unlike Wesley, distrusted the rampant emotionalism at early Methodist gatherings. Wesley thought such outbursts were manifestations of the Holy Spirit.
- Wesley rejected all forms of Predestination. Cennick was a Calvinistic Methodist.
- Wesley advocated the doctrine of Christian Perfection, something Cennick rejected.
So, from 1740 to 1745, Cennick worked with George Whitefield. Then our saint joined the Moravian Church in 1745 and became an ordained minister and evangelist in that communion four years later. From time to time Wesley and Cennick crossed paths and Wesley continued to oppose Cennick’s work.
Cennick wrote hymns and published collections:
- Sacred Hymns for the Children of God in the Days of Their Pilgrimage (1741);
- Sacred Hymns for the Use of Religious Societies (1743);
- A Collection of Sacred Hymns (1749); and
- Hymns to the Honour of Jesus Christ, Composed for Such Little Little Children as Desire to Be Saved (1754).
Among Cennick’s hymns was the following:
Children of the heavenly King,
As ye journey, sweetly sing;
Sing your Saviour’s worthy praise,
Glorious in His works and ways.
We are travelling home to God,
In the way the fathers trod;
They are happy now, and we
Soon their happiness shall see.
Lift your eyes, you sons of light;
Zion’s city is in sight.
There our endless home shall be,
There our God we soon shall see.
Fear not, brethren; joyful stand
On the borders of your land;
Jesus Christ, your Father’s Son,
Bids you undismayed go on.
Lord, obediently we go,
Gladly leaving all below;
Only Thou our Leader be,
And we still will follow Thee.
John Cennick did much for God in a brief span of time. What is God calling you to do, O reader? May you do that.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
MAY 15, 2013 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF THE FIRST U.S. PRESBYTERIAN BOOK OF COMMON WORSHIP, 1906
THE FEAST OF CAROLINE CHISHOLM, HUMANITARIAN
THE FEAST OF PIRIPI TAUMATA-A-KURA, ANGLICAN MISSIONARY
Almighty God, we praise you for your servant John Cennick,
through whom you have called the church to its tasks and renewed its life.
Raise up in our own day teachers and prophets inspired by your Spirit,
whose voices will give strength to your church and proclaim the reality of your reign,
through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns
with the the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
1 Corinthians 3:11-23
—Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60