Born: April 21, 1783, Malpas, Cheshire, England.
Died: April 3, 1826, Trichinopoly (Tiruchirappalli), Tamil Nadu, India, of a cerebral hemorrhage while bathing.
Buried: St. John’s Church, Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu, India (north side of the altar).
Reginald was the son of Thomas Heber and Elizabeth Atherton.
He attended Brasenose College, Oxford, where he won a number of awards in English and Latin.
He received a fellowship to All Souls College, and later became rector at Hodnet, Shropshire. In 1823, he became, somewhat reluctantly, Bishop of Calcutta (Kolkata), India.
Most of Heber’s hymns were published posthumously; 57 of them appeared in Hymns Written and Adapted to the Weekly Church Service of the Year (London: J. Murray, 1827).
His other works include:
The sound of war! In earth and air
The volleying thunders roll:
Their fiery darts the Fiends prepare,
And dig the pit, and spread the snare,
Against the Christian’s soul.
The Tyrant’s sword, the rack, the flame,
The scorner’s serpent tone,
Of bitter doubt the barbèd aim,
All, all conspire his heart to tame:
Force, fraud, and hellish fires assail
The rivets of his heavenly mail,
Amidst his foes alone.
Gods of the world! ye warrior host
Of darkness and of air,
In vain is all your impious boast,
In vain each missile lightning tost
In vain the Tempter’s snare!
Though fast and far your arrows fly
Though mortal nerve and bone
Shrink in convulsive agony,
The Christian can your rage defy:
Towers o’er his head Salvation’s crest,
Faith like a buckler guards his breast,
Undaunted, though alone.
’Tis past! ’tis o’er! in foul defeat
The Demon host are fled!
Before the Saviour’s mercy-seat
(His live-long work of faith complete),
Their conqueror bends his head.
The spoils Thyself hast gainèd, Lord!
I lay before Thy throne:
Thou wert my rock, my shield, my sword;
My trust was in Thy name and word:
’Twas in Thy strength my heart was strong;
Thy spirit went with mine along;
How was I then alone?
Reginald Heber (1783–1826)