John Cennick was “one of the most laborious and successful promoters of the ‘Great Revival’ of the Eighteenth Century.”
Born in Reading, Berkshire, on December 12, 1718, he was brought up in a strict home with parents belonging to the Church of England and Quaker grandparents. Before Cennick came to know the Lord, he sought an apprenticeship in London and instead found a life of sin. That all changed on September 6, 1737, when he trusted Christ for salvation.
His faith took him places and allowed him to meet great men like John and Charles Wesley, and George Whitfield. He was given charge of one of Mr. Wesley’s schools at Kingswood. After a year, he separated from the Wesleys due to a doctrinal dispute and organized his own society. Later, he joined George Whitfield and aided him at the Tabernacle, Moorfields, and London. He preached every day, sometimes as often as six times a day. Though his preaching was not without his dissenters, it is said that he bore persecution “with all meekness.” After concluding his labours with Whitfield, he joined “The Brethren” and ministered in Germany, Dublin, and Northern Ireland, where he spent the rest of his life preaching the Gospel. He died in London on July 4, 1755.
Cennick led a useful life and spent his spare time writing hymns – publishing several books of these. Hatfield describes Cennick as “a rather below the middle stature, of a fair countenance, but of a fairer mind. A good understanding, an open temper, and tender heart characterized the man.” He continues,
“distinguished by ‘unaffected humility, deadness to the world, a life of communion with God, and a cheerful reliance on a crucified Saviour.” What a beautiful character found in a true soldier for the Lord. Cennick died in London on July 4, 1755, at age thirty-seven.
Hatfield, E. F. (n.d.). The poets of the Church: A series of biographical sketches of hymn-writers with notes on their hymns. Hardpress Publishing.