Over a period of time the writers of metrical psalms turned to fashioning free paraphrases of psalm texts. Eventually, in the seventeenth century, several English authors began to write hymn texts independent of the specific words of Scripture. Nineteenth-century fervor for hymn singing culminated with the publication of the most famous and influential of all hymnbooks, Hymns Ancient and Modern. The first half of the twentieth century witnessed growth in the study of hymnology, which led, in turn, to a variety of carefully planned hymnals that have had great influence to the present day.
The Great Awakening on the whole set in motion currents that affected deeply the future of American Christianity. It revived personal religion, prompted the Protestant missionary enterprise somewhat later, gave an impetus to education, and kindled a new humanitarian spirit.
Thomas Olivers was born in Tregoman, Wales in 1725. Early in life, he was left an orphan. Distant relatives brought him up in an indifferent manner. He was sent to school for a time and later became an apprentice to a shoemaker; a man who treated him so cruelly that he ran away. He turned to alcohol for comfort until he heard George Whitefield preach and he was converted.
John Fawcett was born in Yorkshire, England in 1739. He was converted under the preaching of George Whitefield and in 1765 became pastor of the Baptist Church at Wainsgate. He remained here until his death in 1817.
George Whitefield (1714-1770) was one of the great names in evangelism. He was born in Gloucester, England, and entered Oxford in 1733.