Introduction to the Hymns of Maria Grace Saffery

After 1800, Maria Grace Saffery composed 21 hymns (17 include the word “hymn” in the title, and 3 use the word “Sung”) (this number places her fourth behind Anne Steele, Dutton, and de Fleury). Several other poems are hymn-like, such as her tribute to Victoria, “Composed during the Banquet given in honour of the Queen’s visit to the City, 9 November 1837.” Of her hymns, six are on the subject of Baptism, three about Sunday Schools, three are missionary hymns, two celebrate the consecration of houses of worship, one an ordination service, one memorializes a meeting of the Western Association of Particular Baptist Churches, and one celebrates the Jubilee of King George III (1810). She also composed a morning hymn (cp. Anne Steele’s Morning Hymn in Poems, 1760, no. 8), two hymns addressed to children, and a harvest hymn. All of her hymns appear to have been composed for specific occasions related to their subject, most of which can be identified. Thus, they are not merely general hymns written for “occasional” activities among the Baptists but specific occasions for specific congregations, events, and locations. Nearly all where published in various periodicals and hymnals; manuscript copies of many of them remained within the Saffery and Whitaker families and now reside in the Attwater Papers, acc. 76, II.A.2, Angus Library, Regent’s Park College, Oxford.