Sir Edward Denny, 1796-1889

These notes are obtained from "Chief Men among the Brethren" by Hy. Pickering and "Songs of Pilgrimage and Glory" by E.E. Cornwall:

Sir Edward Denny was born on October 2nd. 1796. He died on June 13th. 1889. He never married. He was the eldest son of the 3rd baronet of Tralee Castle, Co. Kerry, Ireland. His mother was called Elizabeth, the daughter of the Hon. Robert Day. The conversion of Sir Edward Denny has been attributed to his reading "Father Clement", the story of two noble Irish families, the one Protestant, the other Roman Catholic, in which scriptural truth wins the day. In the year 1827, Sir Edward became high sheriff for Co. Kerry; in the year following, his mother died. From childhood she had been everything to him, and he had become deeply concerned about her soul. Through his prayers and influence she trusted the Lord Jesus as her Saviour. In 1831 Sir Edward succeeded to the title on the death of his father, a good part of Tralee coming into his possession.

The following interesting notice is culled from the "Leeds Mercury", 19th June 1889:

"Nearly the whole town of Tralee belonged to him. He had an opportunity twenty years ago, when his leases fell in, of raising his rents to figures that, in some cases, would not have been considered extortionate had they been quadrupled. He, however, decided to accept the old rents. The result was that he was almost alone in escaping any reduction in the hands of the Land Commision. So far as he was himself concerned, a little money went a long way, but he gave liberally to poor relations and to the development of religious work in connection with the "Brethren". Living in a quiet way in a cottage in Islington, he devoted his time to the study of the prophetic books. His rental income from Ireland was about £13,000 a year".

Sir Edward Denny was of a quiet and studious disposition, and although he had wealth and position, he desired to live as those who "confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth". At one time he resided at the Boltons, Kensington, and at another time at Islington, being then connected with the Priory Meeting Room. He was intimately associated with J.G. Bellett, J.N. Darby, G.V. Wigram and other names now remembered with affection: and he delighted in the prophetic word, and took a leading part in the conferences held a century ago at the Irish residence of Lady Powerscourt. Sir Edward also studied deeply and wrote much on the subject of prophecy, and, assisted by his friend John Jewell Penstone (1817-1902), prepared valuable charts to illustrate dispensational teaching in an interesting and instructive way. Over a score of these charts were published, involving much labour, the best known being "A Prophetical Stream of Time".

In addition to these, he now began to publish his hymns: in 1839 "A Selection of Hymns" and in 1848, "Hymns and Poems", the latter with new editions in 1870 and 1889. Some of the hymns also appeared in "Hymns for the Poor of the Flock (1841) hymn book. In the preface to "Hymns and Poems" Sir Edward Denny has left the following request:- "I have been much grieved, I confess, to observe how the practice of needlessly altering some even of our well-known favourite hymns has lately prevailed ..... should any of these poems or hymns be deemed worthy of a place in any further collections, may they be left as they are without alteration or abridgement". It was because of Sir Edward's objection to his poems and hymns being altered that J.N. Darby did not include Sir Edward Denny's hymns in the 1881 revision of the Little Flock Hymn Book.

Sir Edward lived to the advanced age of 93 "with clusters ripe and leaf all green". He was a living exemplification of his family motto "Act Mea Messis Erit" — "in age my harvest shall be". He was laid to rest in the Paddington Cemetery by the side of G.V. Wigram who had died ten years before. His sister Dianna Denny survived her brother but six months, attaining the age of 85, and being buried with him. On their headstone is the following triumphant inscription, "In joyful assurance of rising to an endless day".

"Light of the lonely pilgrim's heart,

Star of the coming day!

Arise, and with the morning beams,

Chase all our griefs away"

This is probably Sir Edward Denny's best known hymn, and may be found in quite a number of hymn books, both in Great Britain and America, and especially in Presbyterian, Congregational and Baptist hymnals, and in most hymn books of "Brethren".

His hymns in 'Spiritual Songs' are:

32 Oh wondrous hour when Saviour Thou (The Cross)

94 A pilgrim through this lonely world (The Pilgrim's Path)

122 (adapted) "O Lord the Bright and Blessed Hope (Hope with Christ)

145 Saviour, in love divine (The Supper)

351 Bride of the Lamb, awake, awake! (The Bride and Bridegroom)

441 Hope of our hearts. O Lord appear (Hope of our Hearts)

447 Light of the lonely pilgrim's heart (Light for the Pilgrim)

486 'Tis finished all — our souls to win (The Friend Above)

488 'Tis past, the dark and dreary night (The Morning Star)

489 To Calvary, Lord, in spirit now (Calvary)

Sir Edward Denny's hymns are a valuable contribution to the collection known as 'Spiritual Songs'.

Hymns by Sir Edward Denny