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).

National Portrait Gallery

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Heber Crypt in St. John’s,
Tiruchirappalli, India


Reginald was the son of Re­gin­ald He­ber (same name) and Mary Allanson, and hus­band of Ame­lia Ship­ley (mar­ried Ap­ril 9, 1809) .

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 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)