1737-1791

September 21, 1737, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

May 9, 1791, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Christ Church Burial Ground, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

portrait

Francis was the son of Thomas Hopkinson and Mary Johnson, and father of Joseph Hopkinson, member of the United States House of Representatives and who also became a federal judge.

Francis Hopkinson became a member of the first class at the College of Philadelphia (now the University of Pennsylvania) in 1751 and graduated in 1757, receiving his masters degree in 1760, and a doctor in law (honorary) in 1790. He was secretary to a Provincial Council of Pennsylvania Indian commission in 1761 that made a treaty with the Delaware and several Iroquois tribes. In 1763, he was appointed customs collector for Salem, New Jersey. Hopkinson spent from May 1766 to August 1767 in England in hopes of becoming commissioner of customs for North America. Though unsuccessful, he spent time with the future Prime Minister Lord North and his half-brother, the Bishop of Worcester Brownlow North, and painter Benjamin West.

After his return, Francis Hopkinson operated a dry goods business in Philadelphia and married Ann Borden on September 1, 1768. They had have five children.

Hopkinson obtained a public appointment as a customs collector for New Castle, Delaware on May 1, 1772. He moved to Bordentown, New Jersey in 1774, became a member of the New Jersey Provincial Council, and was admitted to the New Jersey bar on May 8, 1775. He resigned his crown-appointed positions in 1776 and, on June 22, went on to represent New Jersey in the Second Continental Congress where he signed the Declaration of Independence. He left the Congress on November 30, 1776 to serve on the Navy Board at Philadelphia. As part of the fledgling nation’s government, he was treasurer of the Continental Loan Office in 1778; appointed judge of the Admiralty Court of Pennsylvania in 1779 and reappointed in 1780 and 1787; and helped ratify the Constitution during the constitutional convention in 1787.

On September 24, 1789, President George Washington nominated Hopkinson to the newly created position of judge of the United States District Court for the District of Pennsylvania. He was confirmed by the United States Senate, and received his commission, on September 26, 1789. Only a few years into his service as a federal judge, Hopkinson died in Philadelphia at the age of 53 from a sudden epileptic seizure. He did not get his due in life. At one point, he asked only for a bottle of wine for his efforts, which he never received. So every year on his birthday, the workers at Christ Church take a bottle of wine to his grave-site and share it to remember his contribution.

Hopkinson was an amateur author and songwriter at a time when Philadelphia and the colonies were not well known for the arts. He wrote popular airs and political satires in the form of poems and pamphlets. Some were widely circulated, and powerfully assisted in arousing and fostering the spirit of political independence that issued in the American Revolution. Hopkinson was also a reputed amateur musician. He began to play the harpsichord at age 17 and, during the 1750s, hand-copied arias, songs, and instrumental pieces by many European composers. He is credited as being the first American born composer to commit a composition to paper with his 1759 composition My Days Have Been So Wondrous Free. By the 1760s, he was good enough on the harpsichord to play with professional musicians in concerts. Some of his more notable songs include The Treaty, The Battle of the Kegs, and The New Roof, a Song for Federal Mechanics. He also played the organ at Christ Church in Philadelphia, and composed or edited a number of hymns and psalms. In the 1780s, Hopkinson modified a glass harmonica to be played with a keyboard and invented the Bellarmonic, an instrument that utilized the tones of metal balls.

At his alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, one of the buildings in the Fisher-Hassenfeld College House was named after him.

Hopkins’ works include:

Most of Hopkinson’s texts were adaptations from other authors.

  1. Against All Those That Strive with Me
  2. As Pants the Hart for Cooling Streams
  3. Bless God, Ye Servants That Attend
  4. Blest Is He, Who Fears the Lord
  5. Blest Is the Man, to Whom the God of Heaven
  6. From Distant Times Thou Hast Remained
  7. From Lowest Depths of Woe, to God I Sent My Cry
  8. From My Youth Up, May Israel Say
  9. Fullness Which the World Affords, The
  10. Give Ear, Thou Judge of All the Earth
  11. God In the Great Assembly Sits
  12. God Is Our Refuge In Distress
  13. God Spake These Words, O Israel, Hear
  14. Had Not the Lord, May Israel Say
  15. Hail, Columbia! Happy Land!
  16. Have Mercy, Lord, On Me
  17. Hear, O My People, to My Law
  18. Heathen Hosts, O God, The
  19. Heav’ns Declare Thy Glory, Lord, The
  20. He’s Blest Whose Tender Care
  21. Hold Not Thy Peace O Lord, Our God!
  22. How Blest Is He Who Ne’er Consents to Walk
  23. How Long Shall I Repine?
  24. How Long Shall Thy Fierce Anger Burn?
  25. How Many, Lord, There Be
  26. How Vast Must Their Advantage Be
  27. I Waited Meekly for the Lord
  28. In Thee I Put My Steadfast Trust, Lord
  29. In Thee, O Lord, My Hope I Place
  30. In Vain, O Man of Lawless Power
  31. Judge Thou My Cause, O God
  32. Just Judge of Heav’n, Against My Foes
  33. King, O Lord!, The
  34. Let All the Just with One Consent
  35. Let All the Lands, Jehovah Blessing
  36. Let David, Lord, for Evermore
  37. Lord, Hear My Cry, Regard My Prayer
  38. Lord, Hear My Prayer, and to My Cry
  39. Lord, Hear the Voice of My Complaint
  40. Lord Himself Doth Condescend, The
  41. Lord Himself Is King, The
  42. Lord Save Me, for Thy Glorious Name
  43. Lord, the Only God, Is Great, The
  44. Lord, Thou Hast Granted to Thy Land
  45. Lord, Who Shall to Thy Courts Repair
  46. Lord, with Thy Wonted Mercy Hear
  47. My Cheerful Mind a Good Design Shall Frame
  48. My God! My God! Why Leavest Thou Me?
  49. My Soul Doth Magnify the Lord
  50. My Soul for Help On God Relies
  51. My Soul Her Song Shall Raise
  52. O Give Thanks unto the Lord
  53. O God, My Heart Is Fully Bent
  54. O God, Preserve Me
  55. O Lord, How Lovely Is the Place
  56. O Lord, I Am Not Proud of Heart
  57. O Lord, Our God, How Great Art Thou
  58. O Lord, the Rock of My Defense
  59. O Praise the Lord, Ye Nations Round
  60. O Render Thanks and Bless the Lord
  61. O Sing unto the Lord
  62. O ’Twas a Joyful Sound to Hear
  63. Our Father, Who In Heaven Art
  64. Our Fathers, Lord, Repeatedly
  65. Praise God In That Bless’d Place
  66. Praise the Lord with One Consent
  67. Preserve Me, Lord, From Crafty Foes
  68. Resolved to Watch O’er All My Ways
  69. Save Me O God From Floods That Roll
  70. Since In the Lord My Hope Secure Is Placed
  71. Sure Wicked Fools, Devoid of Shame
  72. Tho’ Wicked Men Grow Rich or Great
  73. Through All the Scenes of Life
  74. Thy Dreadful Anger, Lord, Restrain
  75. Thy Mercies, Lord, Shall Be My Theme
  76. Thy Mercy, Lord, to Me Extend
  77. Thy Wonted Mercy, Lord, to Me Extend
  78. To God Be Endless Praise Addressed
  79. To God I Lift My Heart and Voice
  80. To God I Raised My Mournful Voice
  81. To God My Loud Complaints I Made
  82. To God, Our Never Failing Strength
  83. To God Your Grateful Voices Raise
  84. To My Complaint Thine Ear Incline
  85. To My Just Plea and Sad Complaint
  86. To Sion’s Hill I Lift My Eyes
  87. To Thee, My God and King
  88. To Thee, My God and Savior, I
  89. To Thee, O God, We Render Praise
  90. To Thee, O Lord, My Cries Ascend
  91. We Build with Fruitless Toil and Cost
  92. When I Pour Out My Soul In Prayer
  93. When Zion’s God Her Mournful Sons
  94. Who Hath His Dwelling Made
  95. Who Place On Zion’s God Their Trust
  96. Whom Should I Fear, Since God to Me
  97. Why Dost Thou Now Withdraw Thy Presence, Lord
  98. Wicked Fools Must Sure Suppose, The
  99. With Ever Restless, and Ungoverned Rage
  100. With Heart and Voice In One Accord
  101. With Joint Consent Let All the World Attend
  102. With My Whole Heart, My God and King
  103. With New Made Songs, Let God Be Praised
  104. Ye People, Clap Your Hands
  105. Ye Realms of Joy, Your Maker’s Fame