Maltbie Davenport Babcock

3 August 1858–18 May 1901


MALTBIE BABCOCK was born at Syracuse, N.Y., on August 3d, 1858, and died at Naples, Italy, on May 18th, 1901. Graduating from Syracuse University and Auburn Seminary, his ministerial career covered three pastorates: of the First Presbyterian Church of Lockport, N.Y., of the Brown Memorial Church at Baltimore; and of the Brick Church of New York City. If his career was not long, it was nevertheless made memorable by the extraordinary influence over men of his radiant personality overflowing with life and enthusiasm, and by the consecration of unusual gifts to the supreme purpose of becoming a “fisher of men.”

Journal of Presbyterian History, vol. 3, no. 1 (March 1905), p. 52.


Maltbie Babcock, in Thoughts for Every-Day Living (1901).

With simple but impressive services the last tribute to the Rev. Dr. Maltbie D. Babcock was paid yesterday at the Brick Presbyterian Church, where a congregation assembled that taxed the capacity of the building. Mrs. Babcock, the widow of the dead pastor, was present. The platform was banked with roses, wreaths, and palms, and large wreaths of rhododendron were placed at intervals about the gallery. The coffin of plain black stood before the altar. Across it was thrown the dead pastor’s robe, tied with purple ribbons. On the coffin lay a wreath of leaves and a laurel. The plate bore the inscription: “Maltbie Davenport Babcock, D.D. 1858–1901.”

The Rev. Dr. Henry Van Dyke officiated at the service. He was assisted by the Rev. Dr. Charles Cuthbert Hall, the Rev. Wilton Merle Smith of the Central Presbyterian Church, the Rev. Dr. James N. Farr of the Brick Church, and the Rev. George S. Webster of the Church of the Covenant. …

Mrs. Babcock came into the church on the arm of her brother-in-law, Howard Babcock. The other mourners were Mrs. Howard Babcock, Mr. and Mrs. Harry Babcock, J. Frank Tollman, and Mrs. J. Frank Tollman. … After the choir had sung the “Emancipation,” the words of which were written by Dr. Babcock, Dr. Van Dyke briefly outlined the form of the service. “This will be like a family funeral,” he said. “We all feel as if we were his brothers. Every heart here has a part in this funeral. There will be no address, and the reason is that we love Maltbie Babcock so much that we want to have the service as he would want it. Two years ago, he asked me if there was anything peculiar about the service of this church. I told him that we never had a funeral address, and he said that he had never preached one, and would not want one in case of his own death. Where an address is most fitting words are most lacking. We do not need a candle to show a sunbeam. The work our brother has done—the life he lived speaks for him. This is not a black funeral—it is a white one—and we are going to thank God for what He has given, but has taken unto Himself.”

The congregation then sang the hymn “Ten thousand times ten thousand,” and a prayer by the Rev. Dr. Charles Cuthbert Hall followed. Dr. Smith continued the service, reading from the Scripture the Sermon on the Mount. “Crossing the Bar,” was then sung, and Dr. Van Dyke ended the services with prayer. He spoke slowly, and at times with difficulty, pausing frequently to wipe the tears from his eyes. In the course of a prayer that was marked by poetic and tender expression he paid a tribute to the dead pastor. “We thank thee,” he said, “for all those hearts that he has led into the way of life, for the work that he did with the dew of youth upon him and the sunshine of heaven in his heart. He has left us a memory that cannot fade or dim, which abides in our hearts as a reflection of Christ himself.”

The singing of “For all thy saints, O Lord,” ended the service. The body was taken to Syracuse last night, where services at the grave will be conducted by the Rev. George F. Curtis of Bloomfield, N.J.

The New York Times, 13 June 1901.


Featured Hymns:

This is my Father’s world

Collections of Hymns and Poems:

Thoughts for Every-Day Living (1901): PDF

see also:

The School Hymnal (Presbyterian, 1899): PDF

Related Resources:

Maltbie D. Babcock, Letters from Egypt and Palestine (New York, C. Scribner's Sons, 1902): PDF

Charles E. Robinson, Maltbie Davenport Babcock: A Reminiscent Sketch and Memorial (NY: Fleming H. Revell, 1904): PDF

Louis F. Benson, “Maltbie Davenport Babcock,” A Dictionary of Hymnology, vol. 2 (London: 1907), p. 1608: Archive.org

Jessie B. Goetschius, Fragments that Remain from the Ministry of Maltbie Davenport Babcock, Pastor Brick Church, New York City, 1899–1901 (NY: Fleming H. Revell, 1907).

John Timothy Stone, Footsteps in a Parish: An Appreciation of Maltbie Davenport Babcock as a Pastor (New York, C. Scribner’s Sons, 1908).

William P. Shriver, Maltbie Davenport Babcock: Recollections: Baltimore, 1887–1900 (Baltimore: Babcock Memorial Presbyterian Church, 1941).

75th anniversary: Memories of Dr. Babcock and a Brief History of Babcock Church, 1891–1966 (Baltimore: Babcock Memorial United Presbyterian Church, 1966).

Maltbie Babcock, Hymnary.org: https://hymnary.org/person/Babcock_Maltbie