Logan, John, son of a farmer, born at Fala, Midlothian, 1748, and educated at Edinburgh University, in due course entering the ministry of the Church of Scotland and becoming the minister of South Leith in 1770. During the time he held this charge he delivered a course of lectures on philosophy and history with much success. While he was thus engaged, the chair of Universal History in the University became vacant; but as a candidate he was unsuccessful. A tragedy, entitled Runnamede, followed. He offered it to the manager of Covent Garden Theatre, but it was interdicted by the Lord Chamberlain "upon suspicion of having a seditious tendency." It was subsequently acted in Edinburgh. In 1775 he formed one of the Committee by whom the Translations and Paraphrases of the Church of Scotland was prepared. In 1782 he was compelled to resign his charge at Leith in order to prevent deposition, and finally, having passed on to London, he supported himself partly by his pen, and died there, Dec. 28, 1788.
[Also, see Bruce, Michael]
The names of Michael Bruce and John Logan are brought together because of the painful controversy which has long prevailed concerning the authorship of certain Hymns and Paraphrases of Holy Scripture which are in extensive use in the Christian Church both at home and abroad. During the latter years of Bruce's short life he wrote various Poems, and also Hymns for a singing class at Kinnesswood, which were well known to his family and neighbours, and were eventually copied out by Bruce himself in a quarto MS. book, with the hope that some day he might see them in print. Immediately upon his death, in 1767, Logan called upon his father and requested the loan of this book that he might publish the contents for the benefit of the family. This was granted. Not till three years afterwards did a certain work, containing seventeen poems, and entitled Poems on Several Occasions, by Michael Bruce, 1770, appear, with a Preface in which it was stated that some of the Poems were by others than Bruce. Bruce's father immediately pointed out the absence from the volume of certain hymns which he called his son's "Gospel Sonnets," and members of the singing class at Kinnesswood also noted the absence of hymns with which they were familiar. Letters of remonstrance and demands for the return of the quarto manuscript book of Bruce by the father remaining unanswered, led him eventually to see Logan in person. No book was forthcoming, a few scraps of manuscript only were returned, and Logan accounted for the absence of the book by saying he feared "that the servants had singed fowls with it." For a time the matter rested here, only to be revived with renewed interest by the publication, in 1781 (14 years after the death of Bruce, and 11 after the Poems, &c, were issued), of Poems. By the Rev. Mr. Logan, One of the Ministers of Leith. In this volume, an "Ode to the Cuckoo," a poem of exquisite beauty, and other poetical pieces which appeared in the Poems on Several Occasions, by Michael Bruce, were repeated, and claimed as his own by Logan. In addition, certain Hymns and Paraphrases were included, most of which were of sterling merit, and poetical excellence. It has been shown, we think, most conclusively by Dr. Mackelvie in his Life of Bruce prefixed to the Poems, 1837 and by Dr. Grosart in his Works of M. Bruce, 1865, that the "Ode to the Cuckoo," "Lochleven," and other poetical pieces were taken from MS. book of M. Bruce. The Hymns and Paraphrases, most of which were included in the Translations and Paraphrases during the same year, were also claimed for Bruce.
Until clearer evidence is brought forward on behalf of Bruce, the hymns, or paraphrases, following must be ascribed to John Logan: —
"Who can resist th'Almighty arm"; "In streets and op'nings of the gates”; "Thus speaks the heathen: How shall man"; "Take comfort, Christians, when your friends"; "The hour of my departure's come."
The following, which are found only in the Translations and Paraphrases of 1781, are claimed by W. Cameron for Logan, and have never been seriously disputed by the friends of Bruce, the second being original, the first a revise from the Translations and Paraphrases of 1745; and the third a revise of Doddridge and Dr. Hugh Blair:—
"Let Christian faith and hope dispel"; “Thus speaks the high and lofty One"; "What though no flowers the fig-tree clothe."
In addition, we see no cause to deny to Logan the few changes, and new stanza, which are found in Doddridge's "0 God of Bethel, by Whose hand."
Of the above hymns 5 are recasts of hymns in the Scottish Translations and Paraphrases of 1745. Those are: "Behold the mountain of the Lord " (see "In latter days the mount of God "); "When Jesus by the Virgin brought" (see "Now let Thy servant die in peace"); "Behold the Ambassador divine" (see "Behold my Servant, see Him rise"); "Let Christian faith and hope dispel" (see “Now let our souls ascend above"); and "What though no flowers the fig-tree clothe" (see "So firm the saints' foundation stands").
…It is curious to note that every hymn which we have ascribed to M. Bruce has come into more or less extensive use outside of the Translations and Paraphrases, and that not one which we have ascribed to Logan, except "Let Christian faith and hope dispel," and “Take comfort, Christians," &c, is found beyond that work, unless we give to Logan the plaintive "The hour of my departure's come" (which Dr. Grosart claims for Bruce), and the recast "O God of Bethel, by Whose hand," whose success is due to Doddridge. This is the verdict of 100 years' use of those hymns, and shows conclusively the poetic strength of Bruce and the weakness of Logan.
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)