Philip Doddridge

26 June 1702–26 October 1751

Philip Doddridge, engraved by T. Halpin, based on the painting by Andrea Soldi (18th century), in Edwin Long, Illustrated History of Hymns and Their Authors (1875).

PHILIP DODDRIDGE was bom in London, in June, 1702. At his birth he showed so little sign of life that he was laid aside as dead; but one of the attendants, thinking she perceived some motion or breath, took that necessary care of him which was the means of preserving his life. His father died in 1715, about which time Philip was removed to a private school at St. Alban’s. The person who had the management of his late father’s affairs acted so imprudently as to waste all the property, and had it not been for a Mr. Clark, dissenting minister at St. Alban’s, who stood as a father to him, Philip must have been thrown into want.

In 1718 he left the school at St. Alban’s, when he had an offer from the Duchess of Bedford that, if he would go to one of the Universities, and be educated as a minister for the Church of England, she would defray the expense of his education, and if she should live until he had taken orders, would provide for him in the church. This, however, he declined, as he could not satisfy his conscience so as to comply with the forms of the church. Mr. Clark then took him under his care, and a way was thus opened for him to enter into the ministry.

After having been some time under Mr. Jennings, who kept an academy at Kibworth, and subsequently at Hinckley, Doddridge entered on the ministry in1722. He preached his first sermon at Hinckley from 1 Cor. xvi. 22. The following year he settled at Kibworth. In 1729 he removed to Northampton, succeeding a minister named Tingey. His learning is said to have been very great. “Though others might exceed him in their acquaintance with antiquity or their skill in the languages, yet, in the extent of his learning, and the variety of useful, important knowledge he had acquired, he was surpassed by very few.” I am bound to confess, however, that so far as his life has been given by his biographer, Mr. Job Orton, I can trace very little of that learning which can be alone imparted by the Holy Spirit. Nearly the whole book is taken up with his exemplary piety, his covenants with God, his zeal, his resolves, his doing good, [etc.]

When allowed by Orton to speak in his own words we find more life. To a friend he writes, “I have great need of using the publican’s prayer, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner,’ to me an unprofitable servant, who have deserved long since to have been cast out of his family. You talk of my strength and usefulness. Alas! I am weak and unstable as water. My frequent deadness and coldness in religion sometimes press me down to the dust; and, methinks, it is best when it does so.” He was once conversing on the way in which Christians often died, when he said I wish that my last words may be these:

A guilty, weak, and helpless worm,
On thy kind arms I fall;
Be thou my strength and righteousness,
My Jesus and my all.

In Dec., 1750, he went to St. Alban’s to preach the funeral sermon of his old friend and benefactor, Dr. Clark. In that journey he contracted a cold, which did not leave him throughout the winter. In the spring of 1751, it considerably abated, but returning again with great violence in the summer, he had to give up preaching, and removed to Bristol, to try the waters there; but his health was evidently rapidly declining. When his friends reminded him of his fidelity, diligence, and zeal in his Master’s service, he used to reply, “I am nothing; all is to be ascribed to the free grace of God.” In Sept. he left Bristol for Lisbon, where he arrived on the 13th of October, and on the 26th (old style) breathed his last. On his body being opened, his lungs were found in so ulcerated a state that it appeared wonderful to the doctor that he had been able to speak so long. It was, I think, a cruel thing to send him from England under such circumstances. When a consumptive person’s friends are favored with wisdom to remove him or her, in the early stages of the disease, to a more congenial climate, it often, with God’s blessing, tends to the checking of the malady; but, as a physician in Malta once said to me, it is unpardonable in the doctor to keep their patients in England until their lungs are all but gone, and then to send them abroad to die. Doddridge’s body was interred in the burying-ground belonging to the British factory at Lisbon.

by John Gadsby
Memoirs of the Principal Hymn-Writers & Compilers of the 17th, 18th, & 19th Centuries (1870)

Featured Hymns:

Hark the glad sound! the Saviour comes

Collections of Hymns:

Hymns Founded on Various Texts in the Holy Scriptures

1st ed. (1755): PDF
2nd ed. (1759): PDF
3rd ed. (1766): PDF
New ed., corrected (1776): PDF
5th ed. (1779): PDF
6th ed. (1788): PDF
New ed. (1792): PDF
7th ed. (1793): PDF
8th ed. (1794): PDF

Note: Job Orton died in 1783.

see also:

Some Remarkable Passages in the Life of the Honourable Col. James Gardiner (1747): PDF

Translations and Paraphrases (Church of Scotland):

(1745): PDF
(1751): PDF
(1756): PDF
(1765): PDF
(1771): PDF
(1781): PDF


Philip Doddridge, Hymns Suited to Various Texts, James Marshall and Marie-Louise Osborn Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University (Osborn c493):

Philip Doddridge, Hymns on Several Occasions, British Library (Add MS 42558):

see Oxford Dictionary of National Biography for a more detailed list of additional MSS (correspondence, papers, etc.)


E. Williams and E. Parsons, ed., The Works of the Rev. P. Doddridge, D.D., 10 vols. (Leeds, 1802-5): HathiTrust

John Doddridge Humphreys, Scriptural Hymns by the Rev. Philip Doddridge, D.D. (London: Darton & Clark, 1839): PDF

Graham C. Ashworth, The Hymns of Philip Doddridge (Grand Rapids: Soli Deo Gloria, 2010).
[Note: This is a newly typeset presentation of the 1766 ed.; it does not include analysis of Doddridge’s MSS or Humphreys’ 1839 ed.]

Life & Hymns:

Job Orton, Memoirs of the Life, Character, and Writings of the late Rev. Philip Doddridge (Salop, 1766): PDF

“Philip Doddridge,” Biographia Britannica, 2nd ed., vol. 5 (1793), pp. 266-315: PDF

John Doddridge Humphreys, The Correspondence and Diary of Philip Doddridge, D. D., 5 vols. (1829-1831): HathiTrust

John Gadsby, “Philip Doddridge,” Memoirs of the Principal Hymn-Writers & Compilers of the 17th, 18th, & 19th Centuries, 4th ed. (London, 1870), pp. 50-51: HathiTrust

Edwin Long, “Philip Doddridge,” Illustrated History of Hymns and Their Authors (Philadelphia: Joseph F. Jaggers, 1875), pp. 128-147 :

Edwin Hatfield, “Philip Doddridge,” The Poets of the Church (NY: Anson D.F. Randolph, 1884), pp. 201-208:

H. Leigh Bennett & John Julian, “Philip Doddridge,” A Dictionary of Hymnology (London, 1907), pp. 305-306, 1560: Google Books

Geoffrey F. Nuttall, Philip Doddridge, 1702-51, His Contribution to English Religion (London: Independent Press, 1951).

Malcolm Deacon, Philip Doddridge of Northampton (Northampton: Northamptonshire Libraries, 1980).

Françoise Deconinck-Brossard, “The Circulation and Reception of Philip Doddridge's Hymns,” Isabel Rivers and David L. Wykes, eds., Dissenting Praise: Religious Dissent and the Hymn in England and Wales (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), pp. 68-94.

Gwilym Beechey, “Philip Doddridge and his hymns,” HSGBI Bulletin, vol. 21, no. 1 (Winter 2015), pp. 21-24.

Philip Doddridge,

Françoise Deconinck-Brossard, “Philip Doddridge,” Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology:

Isabel Rivers, “Philip Doddridge,” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: