Notes from "Who wrote our Hymns?" by C. Knapp:
Samuel Rutherford, as far as is known, wrote no hymn. "The Last Words of Samuel Rutherford" were written by a Scottish lady named Ann Ross Cousin, and was first published in the Christian Treasury as late as 1857. This highly gifted lady was the daughter of Dr. David Ross Cuendell of Leith, and became the wife of Rev. William Cousin, an honoured clergyman of the Free Church of Scotland. In 1876, a volume was published called "Immanuel's Land and other pieces" by A.R.C. This volume besides "Immanuel's Land" contained 106 other pieces "all of which are spiritual and good for private reading" a competent critic declares. But the poem which gave title to the book is by far the best and is destined to be read with delight by Christian hearts while the English language endures. "Matchless stanzas" and "Exquisite piece of poetry" are descriptions which none who read them would question. But while the versification is that of Mrs. Cousin, the thoughts contained in it, and most of the peculiar expressions were uttered by Samuel Rutherford himself while he was lying on his death bed, and these telling and intense expressions of the dying saint, with a few others like them were wrought skilfully into the poem. Rutherford is the miner who found and furnished the gems, while Mrs Cousin was the skilful jeweller who sorted and arranged them into a chaplet for a king.
Rutherford was born at Nisbet, Roxburghshire, Scotland, in the year 1600. He was educated in Edinburgh, and in 1621 received the degree of Master of Arts. Soon after this he was appointed Professor of Humanity in the centre of Scottish literary life. But he seemed to have preferred; for his name disappears from the office four years later. We next find him settled as minister over the little town of Anwoth. Speaking of this place in later years, he said, "There did I wrestle with the angel and prevailed. Woods, trees, meadows and hills are my witnesses that I drew on a fair match between Christ and Anwoth".
From Anwoth he issued a volume which gained for him an invitation to a professorship on the Continent. Two offers were made him in fact — one from Utrecht and another from Hardwyck. From this time his troubles began; he was cited to appear before the Court of High Commission, July 27th. 1636 and was subsequently deprived of his parish at Anwoth. The things laid to his charge were of an ecclesiastical nature; it was the old story of the high priests, Annas and Caiaphas, jealous of their authority and moved with envy against Christ's witness. Rutherford was banished to Aberdeen, but political changes restored him to his old charge two years later; and in 1639 he was made professor at St. Andrews. In 1643 he was sent to London as one of the members of the historic Westminster Assembly, where he spent four serious and perilous years. After the Restoration in 1660 he was again subjected to bitter and persistent persecution, which ended with his being summoned to appear before the next Parliament on the charge of High Treason. But the summons found him ill and like to die, and the court prepared to try him, received the treasured and characteristic answer: "I am summoned before a superior court and judiciary; and I behove to answer my first summons and ere your day arrive, I will be where few kings and great folks come".
He died at St. Andrews, March 20th. 1661. Late in the afternoon of the final day of his stormy life, just as the sun was sinking, he was asked by one of the friends standing by his couch. "What think ye now of Christ?" To which he gave the answer: "Oh that all my brethren in the land may know what a Master I have served, and what peace I have this day! I shall sleep in Christ, and then I awake I shall be satisfied with His likeness. This night shall close the door, and put my anchor within the veil; and I shall go away in a sleep by five in the morning. Glory! Glory: to my Creator and my Redeemer for ever! I shall live and adore Him. Oh for arms to embrace Him! Oh for a well tuned harp! Glory, glory dwelleth in Immanuel's land!" At precisely five in the morning as predicted, he crossed the border into Immanuel's land, there to feast his eyes on "the King in His beauty".
Mrs Cousin's hymns in 'Spiritual Songs' are: no. 138, "Oh Christ, what burdens bowed Thy head!" and no. 384, "The Sands of Time are Sinking", based on Samuel Rutherford. Number 138 is a solemn hymn which is often sung at the breaking of bread, and number 384 is suitable for most occasions when Christians gather together.