Above: Library, New York University, 1904
Image Source = Library of Congress
Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-det-4a11791
SAMUEL HANSON COX (SR.) (AUGUST 25, 1793-OCTOBER 2, 1880)
U.S. Presbyterian Minister and Abolitionist
ARTHUR CLEVELAND COXE (MAY 10, 1818-JULY 20, 1896)
Episcopal Bishop of Western New York, Hymn Writer, and Translator of Hymns
Today I add a father and a son to the Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.
Samuel Hanson Cox (1793-1880), born in Rahway, New Jesey, grew up a Quaker. He renounced that denomination to serve in the United States armed forces during the War of 1812. After that conflict Cox became a Presbyterian minister, serving at Mendham, New Jersey (1817-1821) then at the City of New York (1821-1834). In 1932 he cofounded the University of the City of New York, now New York University (http://www.nyu.edu/), where he taught theology. Cox’s opposition to slavery offended a sufficient number of people that a mob sacked his home and church building during the anti-abolitionist riots in 1834, forcing him to leave the city for safety. So Cox became the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn (http://www.fpcbrooklyn.org/), not yet part of the City of New York. He also began to teach Ecclesiastical History at the Union Theological Seminary (http://www.utsnyc.edu/) in time. Cox, a prominent New School Presbyterian, served as the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (New School) in 1849-1850.
[Historical Note: The organizational roots of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (1789-1838) went back to 1706, when The Church of Scotland founded the Presbytery of Philadelphia. The PCUSA (1789-1838) divided over, among other things, the Second Great Awakening. The Old School opposed it while the New School accommodated itself to the movement. Just to confuse people, I suppose, each body which formed from the 1838 schism called itself simply the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. The New School divided over slavery 1858, with the United Synod of the South forming. The Old School split likewise in 1861, spawning the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States of America. The PCCSA absorbed the United Synod of the South in 1864 and renamed itself the Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUS) in 1865, after the Confederacy had ceased to exist. The two PCUSAs reunited in 1869-1870 as the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (what else?). This body merged with the United Presbyterian Church of North America in 1958 to create The United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., which reunited with the almost entirely Southern PCUS in 1983 to form the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).]
Cox retired in 1854. He died at Broxville, New York, in 1880.
Cox had two sons, both of whom became Episcopal clergymen and added “e” to the last name. One son, Samuel Hanson Coxe, Jr., served parishes in the State of New York. The other son, Arthur Cleveland Coxe, rose to the office of bishop.
Arthur Cleveland Coxe was born at Mendham, New Jersey, in 1818, during his father’s tenure as the Presbyterian minister there. Coxe attended the University of the City of New York, which his father had cofounded. Coxe published throughout his life, beginning with poetry during his freshman year of college. He graduated in 1838 then matriculated at General Theological Seminary. Coxe, ordained to the Diaconate in 1841 and the Priesthood the next year, served at St. John’s Church, Hartford, Connecticut (http://sjparish.net/default.asp), from 1842 to 1854; Grace Church, Baltimore, Maryland, from 1854 to 1863; and Calvary Episcopal Church, New York, New York (http://www.calvarystgeorges.org/), from 1863 to 1865. In 1865 Coxe became the Bishop Coadjutor of Western New York, having already declined an opportunity to become the Bishop of Texas. His tenure as Bishop Coadjutor lasted for just a few months, for the bishop died, making Coxe the next bishop, a post he held for the rest of his life.
Coxe published prose and poetry, including hymns. He wrote the following text in 1850:
Saviour, sprinkle many nations,
Fruitful let Thy sorrows be;
By Thy pains and consolations
Draw the Gentiles unto Thee.
Of Thy cross, the wondrous story,
Be it to the nations told;
Let them see Thee in Thy glory
And Thy mercy manifold.
Far and wide, though all unknowing,
Pants for Thee each mortal breast;
Human tears for Thee are flowing,
Human hearts in Thee would rest.
Thirsting, as for dews of even,
As the new-mown grass for rain,
Thee they seek as God of heaven,
Thee as man for sinners slain.
Saviour, lo! the isles are waiting,
Stretched the hand and stained the sight,
For Thy Spirit, new-creating,
Love’s pure flame and wisdom’s light;
Give the word, and of the preacher
Speed the foot and tough the tongue,
Till on earth by every creature
Glory to the Lamb be sung.
Coxe was a humble man, one who, until the last four years of his life, refused to let any of his hymns appear in official Episcopal hymnals, even though he served on the denominational Hymnal Commission. Of Coxe Robert Guy McCutchan wrote the following:
Bishop Coxe was a man of unusual gifts: great personal charm, wonderful eloquence, a scholar of distinction, and a poet whose master-motive was his love of Christ, his love of souls.
—Our Hymnody: A Manual of The Methodist Hymnal, 2d. ed. (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1937, pages 149-150)
Bishop Coxe spoke out on a variety of issues. He opposed any translation of the Bible other than the Authorized (King James) Version. (I disagree with him on that point. That translation is, for me, properly a museum piece.) He also opposed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception and defended the Apostolic nature of Anglican orders. (I agree with him on both of those counts.) But, regardless of how much I agree or disagree with Bishop Coxe, I honor him for his work for God. And I honor his father’s efforts for God and the enslaved.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
MAY 20, 2013 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF SAINT ALCUIN OF YORK, DEACON AND ABBOT
THE FEAST OF SAINT HELENA, MOTHER OF EMPEROR CONSTANTINE I
For Further Reading:
Samuel Hanson Cox:
Arthur Cleveland Coxe:
Heavenly Father, shepherd of your people, we thank you for your servants
Samuel Hanson Cox and Arthur Cleveland Coxe,
who were faithful in the care and nurture of your flock.
We pray that, following their examples and the teachings of their holy lives,
we may by your grace attain our full maturity in Christ,
through the same Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Ezekiel 34:11-16 or Acts 20:17-35
1 Peter 5:1-4 or Ephesians 3:14-21
John 21:15-17 or Matthew 24:42-47
—Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60