1637–1711

Introduction

portrait

Born: Ju­ly 1637, Lit­tle Berk­hamp­stead, Hert­ford­shire, Eng­land.

Died: March 19, 1711, Long­bridge Dev­er­ill, Wiltshire, Eng­land.

Buried: Frome, Som­er­set, Eng­land. He lies be­neath the East Win­dow of the Church of St. John.

portrait
illustration
Ken’s Crypt, Church of St. John the Baptist, Frome

Biography

Ken trained at Win­ches­ter and New Col­lege, Ox­ford, and was or­dained an Ang­li­can priest in 1662.

In 1663, he be­came rec­tor of Lit­tle East­on, Es­sex; rec­tor of East Wood­hay, Hamp­shire; and pre­ben­da­ry of Win­ches­ter in 1669.

He was brief­ly chap­lain to Prin­cess Ma­ry, and lat­er to the Bri­tish fleet. He be­came Bi­shop of Bath and Wells in 1685.

He was one of se­ver­al bi­shops im­pris­oned in the Tow­er of Lon­don for re­fus­ing to sign James II’s De­cla­ra­tion of In­dul­gence (hop­ing to re­store Ca­thol­i­cism in Eng­land); he was tried and ac­quit­ted.

Works

Ken wrote much po­et­ry, pub­lished post­hu­mous­ly in 1721. His oth­er works include:

Poem

Judgment

When the archangel’s trump shall sound,
And warn the world in stupor drowned,
At God’s tribunal to appear
Hell-pow’rs the voice shall, quivering, hear,
The dead shall in their graves awake,
The hearts of all the living, quake.

God man, the Judge, shall ready stand
To leave His throne at God’s right hand:
The angels at His march shall shout,
And, all the way, with zeal devout,
Shall hymns to the Incarnate King,
Of mercy and of justice, sing.

The heav’nly book shall be unclosed,
The secrets of all hearts exposed;
God and their conscience saints will clear,
They’ll plead, not perfect but sincere;
To their mild Judge they’ll make appeals,
Who with His blood their pardon seals.

The guilty sinners, self-condemned,
Who Jesus’ laws and cross contemned,
Despairing to decline their fate,
With horror shall their doom await.
Go, Cursèd! doomed to endless pain—
Come, Saints! in endless bliss to reign.

All praise to God, who, here below,
Prolongs my choice of bliss or woe!
My past ill choice may I deplore,
Fear hell, but fear offending more;
Keep a tribunal in my mind,
And have by God my pardon signed.

Thomas Ken (1637–1711)

Sources

Lyrics