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Henry Jackson van Dyke (November 10, 1852 – April 10, 1933, aged 80) was an American author, educator, and clergyman.
Henry van Dyke was born on November 10, 1852 in Germantown, Pennsylvania, in the United States. He graduated from Princeton University in 1873 and from Princeton Theological Seminary, 1877 and served as a professor of English literature at Princeton between 1899 and 1923.
Van Dyke chaired the committee that wrote the first Presbyterian printed liturgy, The Book of Common Worship of 1906. In 1908–09 Dr. van Dyke was an American lecturer at the University of Paris. By appointment of President Wilson, a friend and former classmate of van Dyke, he became Minister to the Netherlands and Luxembourg in 1913. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters and received many other honors. Van Dyke was an "ardent foe of the annexation of the Philippines, [and] told his congregation in 1898, 'If we enter the course of foreign conquest, the day is not far distant when we must spend in annual preparation for wars more than the $180,000,000 that we now spend every year in the education of our children for peace.'"
Among his popular writings are the two Christmas stories, The Other Wise Man (1896) and The First Christmas Tree (1897). Various religious themes of his work are also expressed in his poetry, hymns and the essays collected in Little Rivers (1895) and Fisherman’s Luck (1899). He wrote the lyrics to the popular hymn, "Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee" (1907), sung to the tune of Beethoven's "Ode to Joy". He compiled several short stories in The Blue Flower (1902), named after the key symbol of Romanticism introduced first by Novalis. He also contributed a chapter to the collaborative novel, The Whole Family (1908).
One of van Dyke's best-known poems is titled "Time Is" - also known as "For Katrina's Sundial" because it was composed to be an inscription on a sundial in the garden of an estate owned by friends Spencer and Katrina Trask. The first section of the poem reads:
(some versions, including the 9/11 memorial, have "not" in place of "eternity")
In 2003, the same section of the poem was chosen for a memorial (located in Grosvenor Square, London), to British victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The poem is also used as the closing of the 2013 novel Child of Time, by Bob Johnson.
Around the outer edge of the Katrina Trask sundial, marking the hours, the poem continues:
A biography of Van Dyke, titled Henry Van Dyke: A Biography, was written by his son Tertius van Dyke and published in 1935.
The Presbyterian Historical Society has a collection of Van Dyke’s sermons, notes and addresses from 1875 to 1931. The collection at the historical society also includes two biographical essays and a poem from 1912.
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John W. Garrett