Born: Ju­ly 11, 1767, Brain­tree, Mas­sa­chu­setts.

Died: Feb­ru­ary 23, 1848, Wash­ing­ton, DC.

Buried: Unit­ed First Par­ish Church, Quin­cy, Mas­sa­chu­setts.



John was the son of John Ad­ams, se­cond pre­si­dent of the Unit­ed States, and Abi­gail Smith, and hus­band of Lou­isa Ca­the­rine John­son.

John the young­er went on to be­come 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:


The Death of Children

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.

There, at the Almighty Father’s hand,
Nearest the throne of living light,
The choir of infant seraphs stand,
And dazzling shine, where all are bright.

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 unobscured 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
Returns, unsullied, as it came.

John Quincy Adams (1767–1848)