Dr. Ryland was the son of the Rev. John Collett Ryland. He was born in Warwick, Jan. 29th. 1753 and died in Bristol, June 25th. 1825. At the age of 28 he was co-pastor with his father at Northampton. In 1794 he accepted the presidency of the Baptist College and the pastorate of the church in Broadmead, Bristol. He held these offices until he died. He was a man of considerable literary culture and was one of the founders of the Baptist Missionary Society. Dr. Ryland's hymns were composed at different times from his sixteenth year to the year of his death. At the age of 20 in 1773, he wrote the first of a series of 100 hymns, most of which were composed to be sung in connection with his sermons.
Julian has some interesting facts about Dr. Rylands hymn, "Ah! I shall soon be dying". This hymn was published with the note, "The following lines passed through the mind of a country minister as he was walking the streets of London, and considering how far several persons appeared now to be advanced in life whom he had known in his youth a very few years back, and how many others of his acquaintance had already been removed."
"Lord, teach a little child to pray". This simple prayer for a child's use is the most popular and widely used of Dr. Rylands hymns. This hymn and another, "God is very good to me" were written by him at the request of a Mrs. Fuller for the use of her child Sarah, who died May 20th 1786, aged 6 years and 6 months.
"O Lord, I would delight in Thee". Dec. 3rd. 1777. Dr. Ryland added this note to the MS, "I recollect deeper feelings of mind in composing this hymn than perhaps I ever felt in making any other". It is this hymn that is included in 'Spiritual Songs' no. 243. This rendering is the same as Mr. Wigram's rendering in the 1856 edition.
Julian has an interesting comment to make on this beautiful hymn. "Mrs. Anne Dulton, a native of Northampton, wrote a hymn, "The soul's joy in God as its portion". It so much resembles Ryland's fine hymn, "O Lord I would delight in Thee", in both thought and expression that it seems almost certain that, when writing it, he had in his mind, perhaps unconsciously, memories of Mrs. Dulton's composition.
O Lord we would delight in Thee,
And in Thy care depend;
To Thee in every trouble flee,
Our safe, unfailing Friend.
Dr. Ryland's advice to young academicians:
"Mind, no sermon is of any value, or likely to be useful, which has not the three R's in it. — Ruin by the Fall; Redemption by Christ; Regeneration by the Spirit.