Josiah Condor, 1789-1855.

Notes from the Little Flock Hymn Book by Adrian Roach and Dr. Julian's Hymnology:

Josiah Condor, the fourth son of Thomas Condor, was born in Falcon Street, Aldesgate, London, on Sept. 17th. 1789. His grandfather, Dr. John Condor, was a noted Dissenter clergyman. His father, Thomas, was also a strong Nonconformist and so Josiah grew up in this environment. At five years of age, smallpox blinded him in his right eye. Fearing the possible loss of his other eye, he was sent to Hackney for electrical treatment. His physician became his teacher, and carried him through the fundamentals of French, Latin and other studies. At fifteen he entered into his father's bookstore as an assistant. In 1810 we find him in co-operation with Ann and Jane Taylor and Eliza Thomas (who later became his wife) and some others in publishing a book called "The Associate Minstrels". It secured a second edition in 1812. He also edited a newspaper called the "Patriot" but was never out of financial problems, yet he went on encouraged by his Lord. He once had a fall from his horse, which laid him aside in much pain and suffering, but at that time he could write, "Fix my heart on things above; make me happy in Thy love". It is not known how Mr. Condor was brought to Christ, but there is definite evidence of his confidence in the sovereign grace of God in the hymns that he wrote. He went to be with Christ at St. John's Wood, on Dec. 27th. 1855.

As a hymn writer Condor ranks with some of the best of the first half of the 19th century. His finest hymns are marked by much elevation of thought expressed in language combining both force and beauty. They generally excel in unity, and in some the gradual unfolding of the leading idea is masterly. The outcome of a deeply spiritual mind, they deal chiefly with the enduring elements of religion. Their variety in metre, in style and in treatment, save them from the monotonous mannerism which mars the work of many hymn writers. Their theology, though decidedly evangelical, is yet of a broad and liberal kind. [This should not be interpreted in the connotation of liberalism today. F.W.] Doubtless Condor's intercourse with many phases of theological thought as Editor of the "Eclectic Review" did much to produce this catholicity .... The popularity of Condor's hymns may he gathered from the fact that at the present time [1917] more of them are in common use in Great Britain and America than those of any other writer of the Congregational body — Watts and Dodderidge alone excepted.

Condor's hymns in 'Spiritual Songs' are:

150 Thou art the Everlasting Word

401 Thou art the Everlasting Word (Adapted from 150)

426 'Tis not that I did choose Thee

The Taylor brethren changed the line "Thou art the Everlasting Word" to "Thou art the blest incarnate Word". This was to comply with the erroneous teaching of Mr. James Taylor senior, who denied both that Jesus was the Eternal Son and that He was the Eternal Word.

Hymns by Josiah Condor