1767–1848
portrait

Ju­ly 11, 1767, Brain­tree, Mas­sa­chu­setts.

Feb­ru­a­ry 23, 1848, Wash­ing­ton, DC.

United First Par­ish Church, Quin­cy, Mas­sa­chu­setts.

John was the son of John Ad­ams, sec­ond pre­si­dent of the Unit­ed States, and Abi­gail Smith.

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:

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?