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