August 30, 1817, Deerfield, Massachusetts.

February 1899, Connecticut.

Indian Hill Cemetery, Middletown, Connecticut.


John was the son of Ephraim Williams and Emily Trowbridge.

He was educated at Deerfield Academy, Harvard, and Trinity College, Hartford, where he graduated in 1835. His parents were Unitarian, but his time at Harvard convinced him to join the Episcopal denomination. He was ordained deacon in 1838 and priest in 1841. Williams was Rector of St. George’s Church, Schenectady, New York (1842–48), then served as president of Trinity College (1848–53), and at the same time professor of history and literature.

In 1851 Williams was elected Assistant Bishop of Connecticut (53rd bishop in the American Episcopal church). On the death of Bishop Brownell in 1865, Williams succeeded him in the sole charge of the diocese. At the same time, from 1854 on, he served as dean of the Berkeley Divinity School at Middletown, and was its principal instructor in Church history and theology.

In 1887, Williams succeeded Alfred Lee of Delaware as presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States. In 1896, he was acknowledged as the senior bishop in the Anglican communion.

Williams’ works include:

  1. Blest Is Our Joy!
  2. Chief ’Mongst Cities of the Plain
  3. Come, Redeemer of the Nations
  4. Come, Spirit, Come!
  5. Creator Eternal of Earth
  6. Creator Eternal, Who Framed the Earth
  7. Eternal Glory of the Sky
  8. Forth Flames the Standard of Our King
  9. Hark! How That Voice Swells Clearly Out
  10. Heaven with Rosy Morning Is Glowing
  11. Jesu, Redeemer of the Earth
  12. Lo! The Golden Light Arises
  13. Lord! At Whose Word All Life Came Forth
  14. Mighty Ruler, God Most True
  15. Morn Lights Up Earth’s Canopy
  16. Now, Holy Ghost, to Thee We Pray
  17. O for a Saint Like Thee
  18. O Thou Who Calledst Forth the Light
  19. Passed the Red and Angry Sea
  20. Shade, and Cloud, and Lowering Night
  21. Thirty Years Have All Been Passed, The
  22. Thou Splendor of the Father’s Light
  23. Thou Trinity in Unity
  24. While Now the Sun His Course Begins
  25. With Limbs Refreshed by Needful Sleep