Rev Joseph Swain


Rev Joseph Swain

Birmingham, Metropolitan Borough of Birmingham, West Midlands, England
Death 14 Apr 1796 (aged 34–35)
Burial London Borough of Islington, Greater London, England
Memorial ID 60902591 View Source

A brief account of the life of The Reverend Joseph Swain, written by Edward Irving Carlyle, was included in the Dictionary of National Biography, volume 55, page 190 (published in 1898 and in the public domain). It is transcribed in its entirety, below.

"SWAIN, JOSEPH (1761-1796), hymn-writer, was born at Birmingham in 1761, and was apprenticed to an engraver of that town at an early age. The latter part of his apprenticeship, however, he served in London with his brother. In 1782 he came under conviction of sin, and on 11 May 1783 was baptised by John Rippon [q. v.] In December 1791 a baptist congregation was formed at Walworth, and Swain, being unanimously chosen pastor, was ordained on 8 Feb. 1792. As a preacher he was extremely acceptable, and his meeting-house was three times enlarged during his ministry. He died on 16 April 1796, leaving a widow and four children, and was buried in Bunhill Fields.

Swain was the author of:

1. ‘A Collection of Poems on Various Occasions,’ London, 1781, 4to.
2. ‘Redemption: a poem in five books,’ London, 1789, 8vo.
3. ‘Experimental Essays,’ London, 1791, 12mo; new edit. with memoir, 1834, 8vo.
4. ‘Walworth Hymns,’ London, 1792, 16mo; 4th edit. 1810.
5. ‘Redemption: a poem in eight books’ (a different work from No. 2); 2nd edit. London, 1797, 8vo; 5th edit. Edinburgh, 1822, 12mo.

Many of Swain's 'Walworth Hymns' and some of those in his earlier 'Redemption' became very popular and are still in common use. The best known are those commencing 'Brethren, while we sojourn here,' 'How sweet, how heavenly is the sight,' 'In expectation sweet,' and 'Thou in whose presence my soul takes delight' (JULIAN, Dict. of Hymnology).

[Memoir of Swain prefixed to Experimental Essays, 1834 ; Funeral Sermon by James Upton;
Allibone's Diet, of Engl. Lit.] E. I. C."

The Reverend Joseph Swain was buried in Bunhill Fields burial ground in London. His headstone, recovered from its original site following bomb damage in World War II, is now located in the paved "broadwalk" in the middle of the burial ground, next to the obelisk to Daniel Defoe and the headstone to William Blake.

Gravesite Details

Swain's marker is at the center of the upper photo, between those of Daniel Defoe and William and Catherine Blake.


In their memory
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  • Maintained by: CMWJR
  • Originally Created by: Sheilia W.
  • Added: 30 Oct 2010
  • Find a Grave Memorial 60902591
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Rev Joseph Swain (1761–14 Apr 1796), Find a Grave Memorial ID 60902591, citing Bunhill Fields Burial Ground, London Borough of Islington, Greater London, England ; Maintained by CMWJR (contributor 50059520) .