Today in Christian History
(Probable date) Death of Alfred the Great, ruler of Wessex, England. His defeat of the Danes ensured Christianity's survival in England, but he is also known for his ecclesiastical reforms and his efforts to revive learning in his country.
The Puritan congregation at Newton (now Cambridge), Massachusetts, chooses Thomas Hooker as its pastor. Hooker had fled persecution in England.
Death of Philip Doddridge, famed for his book The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul that led William Wilberforce and others to Christ. He had been plagued with poor health all his life. Offered a free education at Cambridge if he would be ordained as an Anglican, Doddridge declined, becoming a non-conformist instead and author of over four hundred hymns, including "O Happy Day."
Phillis Wheatley, a slave in Boston who has written Christian poems, sends George Washington a few lines in which she describes him as "first in peace and honors."
Birth of Henry T. Smart, English sacred organist. Though largely self-taught, Smart published many compositions, two of which are still popular as hymn tunes: LANCASHIRE ("Lead On, O King Eternal") and REGENT SQUARE ("Angels From the Realms of Glory").
Birth of Millar Burrows, American archaeologist. Director of the American School of Oriental Research at Jerusalem 1931-32, 1947-48), Burrows' most popular published work was "What Mean These Stones?" (1941).
Death of Reuben A. Torrey, an Independent Congregationalist educator and evangelist, who had pastored Chicago's Moody Avenue Church and served as the first superintendent of both the Moody Bible Institute and the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (Biola). Torrey had also been an editor of The Fundamentals, a magazine which helped unite fundamentalists.
Arrest of the Orthodox priest Innocent Semyonovich Popov. The following year he will be sentenced to death because "during the anti-religious campaign he conducted intensified agitation for the preservation of the church, organized illegal meetings in his flat, and by his actions elicited massive disturbance amidst the population." Eventually his sentence will be commuted to five years in prison.
Death of William Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury. He had been notable for his promotion of social justice, for war-time radio broadcasts, and for ecumenism. Among his more memorable writings were Nature, Man and God and The Faith and Modern Thought.
One month before his death at age 65, English apologist C.S. Lewis wrote in a letter addressed to a child: 'If you continue to love Jesus, nothing much can go wrong with you, and I hope you may always do so.'
© 1987-2020, William D. Blake. Portions used by permission of the author, from "Almanac of the Christian Church"