Circa 1645–1694


Born: Cir­ca 1645, Ir­ches­ter, North­amp­ton­shire, Eng­land.

Baptized: March 1646.

Died: 1694, Wa­ter Strat­ford, Buck­ing­ham­shire, Eng­land.

Buried: May 22, 1694.


Mason was the son of a dis­sent­ing min­is­ter, grand­fa­ther of John Ma­son, au­thor of A Trea­tise on Self-Know­ledge, and an an­ces­tor of hymn trans­lat­or John Mason Neale.

He was edu­cat­ed at Strix­ton School, North­amp­ton­shire, Eng­land, and Clare Col­lege, Cam­bridge.

After re­ceiv­ing his mas­ter’s de­gree, he be­came cur­ate of Ish­am, and in 1688, vic­ar of Stan­ton­bury, Buck­ing­ham­shire.

A lit­tle more than five years lat­er, he be­came rec­tor of Wa­ter Strat­ford. Here he com­posed the vol­ume con­tain­ing The Songs of Praise, his pa­ra­phrase of The Song of So­lo­mon, and the Po­em on Di­ves and La­za­rus, with which Shep­herd’s Pen­i­ten­tial Cries was lat­er bound up. This vol­ume passed through 20 edi­tions; be­sides the Songs of Praise, it con­tains six Pen­i­ten­tial Cries by Ma­son.

Mason’s hymns were prob­ab­ly used in pub­lic wor­ship, and, if so, they are among the ear­li­est hymns so used in the Church of Eng­land.

About a month be­fore his death, Ma­son had a vi­sion of Je­sus wear­ing a glo­ri­ous crown, and with a look of un­ut­ter­able ma­jes­ty on His face. Of this vi­sion he spoke, and preached a se­rmon called The Mid­night Cry, in which he pro­claimed the near­ness of Christ’s re­turn.

A re­port spread that this would take place at Wa­ter Strat­ford it­self, and crowds gath­ered there from the sur­round­ing vil­lag­es. Fur­ni­ture and pro­vi­sions were brought in, and ev­ery cor­ner of the house and vil­lage oc­cu­pied.

The ex­cite­ment had scarce­ly died down when Ma­son passed away, still tes­ti­fy­ing that he had seen the Lord, and that it was time for the na­tion to trem­ble, and for Chris­tians to trim their lamps. His last words were, I am full of lov­ing kind­ness of the Lord.