Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Monsell, John Samuel Bewley

MONSELL, JOHN SAMUEL BEWLEY (1811–1875), hymn-writer, son of Thomas Bewley Monsell, archdeacon of Derry and precentor of Christ Church Cathedral, was born at St. Columb's, Derry, on 2 March 1811. He entered Trinity College, Dublin, and graduated B.A. in 1832, and LL.B. and LL.D. in 1856. He was ordained deacon in 1834, and priest in 1835, and was successively chaplain to Bishop Mant [q. v.], chancellor of the diocese of Connor, rector of Ramoan, co. Antrim, vicar of Egham, Surrey, and rector of St. Nicholas, Guildford. He died on 9 April 1875, at Guildford, from injuries received in a fall from the roof of his church, then in course of reconstruction.

Monsell was a popular hymn-writer, and not a few of his books ran through several editions. Julian's 'Dictionary of Hymnology' (p. 762) gives a list of seventy-two of his better-known hymns. He has a place in nearly all anthologies of religious verse, eight of his pieces being included in M'Ilwaine's 'Lyra Hibernica Sacra,' 1869. Besides leaflets and occasional sermons, he published: 1. 'Hymns and Miscellaneous Poems,' 12mo, Dublin, 1837. 2. 'Cottage Controversy, or Dialogues between Thomas and Andrew on the Errors of the Church of Rome,' 8vo, Limerick, 1839. 3. 'Parish Musings, or Devotional Poems,' 12mo, London, 1850; 7th edition, 12mo, 1863. 4. 'Daughter of Christian England,' a poem on Miss Nightingale's mission to Scutari, 12mo, London, 1854. 5. 'His Presence, not his Memory,' poems, 1855; 2nd edition, 1858; 3rd edition, 8vo, London, 1860; 8th edition, London, 1881. 6. 'Spiritual Songs for the Sundays and Holidays throughout the Year,' 8vo, London, 1857; 2nd edition, 1859. 7. 'Hymns of Love and Praise for the Church's Year,' 8vo, London, 1863; 2nd edition, London, 1866. 8. 'The Passing Bell, and other Poems,' 1867; 2nd edition, 16mo, London, 1869. 9. 'Our New Vicar, or Plain Words on Ritual and Parish Work,' 8vo, London, 1867. 10. 'Lights and Shadows,' 'by the Old Vicar,' 16mo, 1868. 11. 'Litany Hymns,' 1869. 12. 'Teachings of the Epiphany,' 8vo, London, 1871. 13. 'The Winton Church Catechist,' in 4 parts, 16mo, London, 1871. 14. 'Nursery Carols,' 8vo, London, 1873. 15. 'The Parish Hymnal,' a collection edited by him, 16mo, London, 1873. 16. 'Simon the Cyrenian, and other Poems,' 16mo, London, 1876. 17. 'Near Home at Last,' verse, 16mo, London, 1876.

[Wilson's Singers and Songs of the Church, 1869, p. 515; Julian's Dict. of Hymnology, p. 762; Brit. Mus. Cat.; Todd's List of Dublin Graduates; O'Donoghue's Poets of Ireland, p, 164.]

D. J. O'D.