1784 - 1849 Author of "Lamp of Our Feet Whereby We Trace" in The Lutheran Hymnal Barton, Bernard, commonly known as the "Quaker Poet," was born in London Jan. 31, 1784, and educated at a Quaker school at Ipswich. In 1798 he was apprenticed to Mr. S. Jesup, a shopkeeper at Halstead, Essex, with whom he remained until 1806, when he removed to Woodbridge, Suffolk, and entered into business with his brother, as a coal and corn merchant. On the death of his wife at the end of the first year of their married life, he proceeded to Liverpool, where he acted as a private tutor for a short time. He returned to Woodbridge in 1810, where he secured an engagement in the local bank of the Messrs. Alexander. This appointment he held for 40 years. He died at Woodbridge, Feb. 19, 1849. During the same year his daughter published his Poems and Letters, with a Memoir. His poetical works were numerous, including:—
(1) Metrical Effusions , 1812; (2) Poems by an Amateur, 1818; (3) Poems , 1820; (4) Napoleon, and other Poems, 1822; (5) Poetic Vigils, 1824; (6) Devotional Verses founded on Select Texts of Scripture, 1826; (7) A Widow's Tale, 1S27; (8) New Year's Eve, 1829; (9) The Reliquary, 1836; (10) Household Verses, 1845. A complete list of his works is given in Joseph Smith's Descriptive Catalogue of Friends' Books, Lond., J. Smith, 1867, vol. i. pp. 196-200.
From these works about 20 pieces have come into common use as hymns. These are found principally in the Scottish Evangelical Union Hymnal, on the one hand, and various American Unitarian collections on the other. The best known are, “Lamp of our feet, whereby we trace," and "Walk in the light, so shalt thou know." From his Devotional Poems, &c, 1826, the following have passed into the Scottish Evangelical Union Hymnal, 1878:—
1. Fear not, Zion's sons and daughters. Gracious Promises. This is part of a poem on Isaiah xliii. 1, “Fear not, Jacob, tabulated."
2. Hath the invitation ended? Invitation.
3. See we not beyond the portal? Present vision Imperfect. This is part of the poem on 1 Cor. xiii. 12, “Dim and dark our present vision."
4. Those who live in love shall know. Peace.
5. Would'st thou share this benediction! Poor in Spirit.
In addition, there are also in various collections:—
6. Around Bethesda's healing wave. Consolation. This is on pp. 182-185, in his Napoleon, and other Poems, 1822, in 10 stanzas of 6 lines. A cento therefrom is given in a few American hymnals, including Mr. Beecher's Plymouth Collection, No. 746, as, "The waters of Bethesda's pool."
7. There is a life more dear. Spiritual Life. From the Devotional Verses, 1826, p. 96, into Kennedy, 1863, No. 1177, with the omission of stanza v.
8. Say not the law divine. Spiritual Law. Also from the Devotional Verses, 1826, p. 34, into various American hymnals, generally Unitarian, as the Hymn and Tune Book, Boston, 1868, No. 342, &c, where, however, it is rewritten from an irregular metre to S.M. This had previously appeared in Hedge and Huntington's Hymns for the Church of Christ, Boston, U.S., 1853.
Other hymns, given in great part in American Unitarian collections, are annotated under their respective first lines.
-- John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)
Barton, Bernard, p. 116, i. Other hymns in common use:—
1. God made the country, yet in scenes. Country Life. This begins with stanza iii. of a poem "Addressed to a Friend in London" in The Reliquary, 1836, p. 83.
2. Lamp of our feet! whereby we trace. Holy Scriptures, published in The Reliquary, 1836, p. 116, in 11 stanzas of 4 lines. It is in common use in its full form, and also abbreviated as (1) "Word of the ever-living God"; and (2) "Word of the everlasting God." In extensive use.
3. There is a Friend more tender, true. Jesus, the Friend. This begins with stanza iii. of "But yet, however cheerless seem," in his Poems & Letters, 1853, p. 254.
4. Walk in the light! So shalt thou know. (Walking in the Light.) Published in his Devotional Verses, 1826, p. 242, in 6 stanzas of 4 lines. It is found in many modern collections, and is one of the most popular of his hymns.
5. We journey through a vale of tears. Heaven Anticipated. In his Poems & Letters, 1853, p. 193.
Of these hymns, Nos. 3, 5, are of an earlier date than the Poems & Letters of 1853; but we have failed to find them in Barton's earlier works.
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology, Appendix, Part II (1907)