Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
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College History



Reverend Samuel Wolcott, Commencement speaker

Reverend Samuel Wolcott spoke at Commencement. Born in East Windsor, Connecticut, in 1813, he died at Longmeadow, Massachusetts, Feb. 24, 1886.  Wolcott was the author of the more than 200 hymns, as well as articles on the archaeology of ancient Biblical sites.

Born in East (now South) Windsor, Connecticut, on 2 July 1813, Wolcott's family already had a long history in the Americas. Henry Wolcott arrived in Massachusetts Bay with his wife Elizabeth Saunders in 1630. Henry had inherited an estate in England, but left it behind for the promise of religious freedom in Massachusetts. Six years later he moved to Windsor, Connecticut, where he was among the leading figures in establishing and running the local government. Wolcott compiled the first published genealogy of his family.

Samuel Wolcott completed his studies at Yale in 1833 and graduated from Andover Theological Seminary in 1837. From 1840 to 1842 he was a missionary in Syria. On his return to America he was successively pastor of several Congregational churches in Long Meadow (1843-1847) and Belchertown, Massachusetts; Providence, Rhode Island (High Street Congregational Church, 1853-1859); and Chicago, Illinois, before moving with his family to Cleveland, Ohio in 1862.

Wolcott's ministry carried him around the world and throughout many communities of the northeastern United States. He served as Secretary and Treasurer and on the Board of Directors of the Ohio Congregational Home Missionary Society (1870s), and Trustee of Oberlin College from 1868 to 1881. It is said that he wrote no hymns before age 55. Then, on February 7, 1869, Wolcott returned home from a YMCA evangelistic service and penned the words to one of his first hymns, a missionary hymn titled "Christ for the World We Sing." Before his death in 1886, Wolcott would write over 200 hymns, a dozen of which continue to appear in hymnals today. His words come from his personal experiences as a missionary and pastor, and his personal faith.

1. Christ for the world we sing,
the world to Christ we bring,
with loving zeal;
the poor, and them that mourn,
the faint and overborne,
sinsick and sorrow-worn,
whom Christ doth heal.

2. Christ for the world we sing,
the world to Christ we bring,
with fervent prayer;
the wayward and the lost,
by restless passions tossed,
redeemed at countless cost,
from dark despair.

3. Christ for the world we sing,
the world to Christ we bring,
with one accord;
with us the work to share,
with us reproach to dare,
with us the cross to bear,
for Christ our Lord.

4. Christ for the world we sing,
the world to Christ we bring,
with joyful song;
the newborn souls, whose days,
reclaimed from error's ways,
inspired with hope and praise,
to Christ belong.

For a list of commonly used hymns by Samuel Wolcott, see: http://www.hymnary.org/person/Wolcott_S

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