1767-1848
portrait

July 11, 1767, Braintree, Massachusetts.

February 23, 1848, Washington, DC.

United First Parish Church, Quincy, Massachusetts.

Adams was the sixth president of the United States. He wrote a metrical version of the psalms, as well as several hymns. His diary entry for June 29, 1845, reads:

Mr. Lunt preached this morning from Ecclesiastes iii. I, To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven. He had given out as the first hymn to be sung the 138th of the Christian Psalter—his compilation, and the hymn-book now used in our church. It was my version of the 65th Psalm; and no words can express the sensations with which I heard it sung. Were it possible to compress into one pulsation of the heart the pleasure which, in the whole period of my life, I have enjoyed in praise from the lips of mortal man, it would not weigh a straw to balance the ecstasy of delight which streamed from my eyes as the organ pealed and the choir of voices sung the praise of Almighty God from the soul of David, adapted to my native tongue by me.

After Adams’ death, some of his verse was published in Poems of Religion and Society by John Quincy Adams, by John Davis and T. H. Benton (New York: William H. Graham, 1848). A sample from that book:

TO A BEREAVED MOTHER

Sure, to the mansions of the blest,
When infant innocence ascends,
Some angel, brighter than the rest,
The spotless spirit’s flight attends.
On wings of ecstasy they rise,
Beyond where worlds material roll;
Till some fair sister of the skies
Receives the unpolluted soul.

That inextinguishable beam,
With dust united at our birth,
Sheds a more dim, discolored gleam
The more it lingers upon earth.
Closed in this dark abode of clay,
The stream of glory faintly burns:—
Not unobserved, the lucid ray
To its own native fount returns.

But when the Lord of mortal breath
Decrees his bounty to resume,
And points the silent shaft of death
Which speeds an infant to the tomb—
No passion fierce, nor low desire,
Has quenched the radiance of the flame;
Back to its God the living fire
Reverts, unclouded as it came.

Fond mourner! be that solace thine!
Let hope her healing charm impart
And soothe, with melodies divine,
The anguish of a mother’s heart.
O, think! the darlings of thy love,
Divested of this earthly clod,
Amid unnumbered saints above,
Bask in the bosom of their God.

Of their short pilgrimage on earth
Still tender images remain:
Still, still they bless thee for their birth,
Still filial gratitude retain.
Each anxious care, each rending sigh,
That wrung for them the parent’s breast,
Dwells on remembrance in the sky,
Amid the raptures of the blest.

O’er thee, with looks of love, they bend;
For thee the Lord of life implore;
And oft, from sainted bliss descend,
Thy wounded quiet to restore.
Oft, in the stillness of the night,
They smooth the pillow of thy bed,
Oft, till the morn’s returning light,
Still watchful they hover o’er thy head.

Hark! in such strains as saints employ,
They whisper to thy bosom peace;
Calm the perturbed heart to joy,
And bid the streaming sorrow cease.
Then dry, henceforth, the bitter tear:
Their part and thine inverted see:—
Thou wert their guardian angel here,
They guardian angels now to thee.

  1. Hour-Glass, The
  2. Hark! ’Tis the Holy Temple’s Bell
  3. Lord of All Worlds
  4. O Lord My God! How Great Art Thou!
  5. O Lord, Thy All Discerning Eyes
  6. O That the Race of Men Would Raise
  7. Send Forth, O God, Thy Light and Truth
  8. Sure to the Mansions of the Blest
  9. Turn to the Stars of Heaven Thine Eyes
  10. Why Should I Fear in Evil Days?