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.