Henry Van Dyke

10 November 1852–10 April 1933

Henry Van Dyke, in Poems of Henry Van Dyke (1911).

HENRY VAN DYKE was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania, son of Presbyterian minister Henry Jackson van Dyke and Henrietta Ashmead. He earned his B.A. (1873) and M.A. (1876) at Princeton College, followed by a divinity degree from Princeton Seminary (1877), then additional education at the University of Berlin (1879). He was ordained in 1879 and took his first position as pastor of the United Congregational Church in Newport, RI. He became pastor of Brick Presbyterian Church, New York City, in 1883. “It was in this noted pulpit that Dr. Van Dyke’s rare sermonic abilities were revealed. His sermons were characterized by great freshness and vitality of style, by beauty of diction, and by breadth of view, as well as by a fearlessness in the declaration of his convictions.”[1] In 1881, Van Dyke married Ellen Reid of Baltimore; they had nine children.

He was succeeded at Brick in late 1899 by fellow pastor and poet Maltbie D. Babcock, thence taking a position as professor of English literature at Princeton University. Upon Babcock’s unexpected death in 1901, Van Dyke officiated over the service and resumed some pastoral duties at Brick concurrently with his teaching schedule, until October 1902 when he was succeeded by William R. Richards. He chaired the committee which assembled the Book of Common Worship in 1906 and was also vital in leading the revision of 1932. Richards died in January 1910, prompting Brick to call upon Van Dyke once more, who assisted the church until his third successor, William P. Merrill, was installed in October of 1911. In the meantime, Van Dyke had resigned his post at Princeton in December of 1910.

He was appointed Minister to the Netherlands and Luxembourg by U.S. President (and former Princeton Univ. president) Woodrow Wilson in 1913, a post he held until 1917. He returned to Princeton in 1919, retiring in 1923. In addition to his prolific writing and publishing career, Van Dyke was also known as an avid outdoorsman and expert fisherman. In his life, he authored over seventy books, contributed to thirty others, and published nearly two dozen smaller pamphlets. His published works are listed in the biography by his son Tertius Van Dyke (1935). He contributed his most famous hymn, “Joyful, joyful, we adore thee,” to the 1911 Presbyterian Hymnal and served as an advisor for the 1933 Hymnal. He died at home at his estate called Avalon, in Princeton.

for Hymnology Archive
24 June 2019

  1. “Joyful, joyful, we adore thee,” Handbook to the Hymnal, ed. William C. Covert & Calvin W. Laufer (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board, 1936), p. 7.

Featured Hymns:

Joyful, joyful, we adore thee

Collections of Hymns and Poems:

The Builders, and Other Poems (1897): Archive.org

The Toiling of Felix, and Other Poems (1900): Archive.org

Music, and Other Poems (1905): Archive.org

The White Bees, and Other Poems (1909): Archive.org

Poems of Henry Van Dyke

1st Ed. (1911): Archive.org
Rev. Ed. (1913):
New & Rev. (1920): Archive.org

The Grand Canyon, and Other Poems (1914): Archive.org

The Red Flower: Poems Written in War Time (1917): Archive.org

Golden Stars and Other Verses (1919): Archive.org

Songs Out of Doors (1922): Archive.org

Chosen Poems (1927): WorldCat


Van Dyke Family Papers, Princeton University:

Louis F. Benson Manuscript Collection, Princeton Theological Seminary:


Works, “Avalon Edition,” 18 vols. (1920-1927): WorldCat

Related Resources:

Hamilton Wright Mabie, “Henry Van Dyke, the Man,” Book News, vol. 24, no. 285 (May 1906), pp. 605-614: HathiTrust

“Henry Van Dyke,” Who’s Who in the World, ed. H.L. Motter (NY: Who’s Who Publishing Co., 1912), p. 1043: Google Books

Obituary, The New York Times (11 Apr. 1933).

Tertius van Dyke, Henry van Dyke: A Biography (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1935).

“Joyful, joyful, we adore thee,” Handbook to the Hymnal, ed. William C. Covert & Calvin W. Laufer (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board, 1936), pp. 6-9.

J.R. Watson, “Henry Van Dyke,” Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology:

John D. Buggeln, “Henry Van Dyke,” American National Biography:

Henry Van Dyke, Hymnary.org: