Archive for the ‘George Matheson’ Tag

Feast of John Ross MacDuff and George Matheson (April 30)   1 comment

Flag of Scotland

Above:  Flag of Scotland

JOHN ROSS MACDUFF (MAY 23, 1818-APRIL 30, 1895)

Scottish Presbyterian Minister and Author

Mentor of


Scottish Presbyterian Minister and Author

We human beings are here on this planet to, among other things, help each other along the paths of righteousness.  Some of us do a better job of that than do others.  John Ross MacDuff did a fine job.

John Ross MacDuff (1818-1895), a graduate of the University of Edinburgh, entered the ranks of the clergy of The Church of Scotland in 1842.  For seven years he served at Keltins Parish, Forfarshire.  From 1849 to 1855 MacDuff ministered at St. Madoe’s, Perthshire.  Then, until 1871, he pastored Sandyford Parish, Glasgow, retiring from there to devote himself fulltime to writing.  MacDuff was a popular devotional writer and author of thirty-one hymns.  One of them, “Christ is Coming,” based on Revelation 22:20, dealt with the Second Coming.  I have read the text carefully several times, detecting a paraphrase of that verse yet not finding evidence of his Postmillennial theology.  (Aside:  Premillennialism is overrated, by the way.)

Among MacDuff’s parishioners at Sandyford Parish, Glasgow, was George Matheson (1842-1906).  Of MacDuff Matheson wrote:

Dr. MacDuff gave me my first sense of literary beauty, my first experience of oratory, my first real conviction of the beauty of Christianity.

–Quoted in James Moffatt, Handbook to The Church Hymnary (London:  Oxford University Press, 1927), page 414.

Matheson, the son of a successful merchant, was a first-rate intellect.  He was also blind.  That fact led to grief in 1882, when a woman declined his proposal of marriage and cited his blindness as the reason for the negative response.  The immediate result of Matheson’s broken heart was the hymn, “O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go.”

Matheson followed his mentor into the ordained ministry in 1866, serving first as MacDuff’s assistant at Sandyford Parish.  Matheson served several other congregations during his career, also composing hymns and devotional and scholar prose.  He never married, so one of his sisters always lived with him to provide assistance in personal and ecclesiastical matters.

Each one of us needs help to become the person he or she can become the person he or she can become in God.  MacDuff assisted Matheson, who also received aid from sisters.  I wonder how many people Matheson was therefore able to inspire.





Almighty God, beautiful in majesty, majestic in holiness:

You have shown us the splendor of creation in the work of your servants John Ross MacDuff and George Matheson.

Teach us to drive from the world all chaos and disorder,

That our eyes may behold your glory, and that at last everyone may know

The inexhaustible richness of your new creation in Jesus Christ our Lord,

Who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Isaiah 28:5-6 or Hosea 14:5-8 or 2 Chronicles 20:20-21

Psalm 96

Philippians 4:8-9 or Ephesians 5:18b-20

Matthew 13:44-52

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 61