Born: December 19, 1808, Old Broughton, Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: July 31, 1889, Edinburgh, Scotland
Buried: Canongate churchyard
Bonar has been called the prince of Scottish hymn writers. After graduating from the University of Edinburgh, he was ordained in 1838, and became pastor of the North Parish, Kelso. He joined the Free Church of Scotland after the Disruption of 1843, and for a while edited the churchs The Border Watch. Bonar remained in Kelso for 28 years, after which he moved to the Chalmers Memorial church in Edinburgh, where he served the rest of his life. Bonar wrote more than 600 hymns. At a memorial service following his death, his friend, Rev. E. H. Lundie, said:
His hymns were written in very varied circumstances, sometimes timed by the tinkling brook that babbled near him; sometimes attuned to the ordered tramp of the ocean, whose crested waves broke on the beach by which he wandered; sometimes set to the rude music of the railway train that hurried him to the scene of duty; sometimes measured by the silent rhythm of the midnight stars that shone above him.