J. V. S. Taylor

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Rev. Joseph van Someren Taylor (Bellary, 3 July 1820 – Edinburgh, 2 June 1881), known more commonly as J. V. S. Taylor, was a British missionary in India who translated the Bible into Gujarati language.


The earlier first London Missionary Society missionary to Gujarat, John Taylor M.D.[1] had arrived in 1805 but became disheartened by the state of the mission and entered government service.[2]

Joseph Taylor (d. Bombay, November 1852 or 1859), was missionary in Bellary since 1812, then Belgaum since September, 1820. It was this Joseph Taylor who was father of J. V. S. Taylor.[3]

Joseph van Someren Taylor was born on 3 July in 1820, Bellary, Mysore. He studied at Bishop's College, Calcutta to the age of 15, then he went to England in 1838 for further studies he came into close relationship with the young David Livingstone (the friendship continued until Livingstone's death in Africa in 1873). In 1840 he attended Glasgow University and in 1845 he completed his B.A.. The same year the London Missionary Society accepted him as missionary and sent him to India to be based in Madras.

J. V. S. arrived in Baroda, Gujarat, in 1846 and went with William Clarkson to Mahi Kantha. After Clarkson retired in 1854, the mission was transferred to the Irish Presbyterian Missionary Society in 1858.[4] He was founder of Church of North India (CNI) churches in Gujarat like Borsad and Shahwadi (Ranipur[disambiguation needed]).

He died in 1881. His son, Dr. George Pritchard Taylor remained in India and became first principal of Stevenson Divinity College-Ahmedabad, named after William Fleming Stevenson (1832–1886). G. P. Taylor also revised his father's first complete Gujarati grammar (1867), then publishing his own.[5]

The Gujarati "Old Version" Bible[edit]

A Gujarati translation had been started by the Serampore Mission Press in 1820, and William Carey had contributed to it. James Skinner and William Fyvie of the London Missionary Society continued. These were all superseded by J. V. S. Taylor's 1861 "Old Version" which remains the standard version today.[6][7] J. V. S. Taylor was the first Christian Missionary to study the rules of Gujarati prosody and write hymns in the idiom, published in 1863. He was one of those who contributed to modern Gujarati.


He was creator of so many religious Christian songs in Gujarati hymnal called Bhajansangrha, which are still popular with Christians in Gujarat. He is remembered for creating some songs like Pita tane parakrame (With the wish and might of my heavenly Father, hymn number 287), Maro Paalak Dev che (The Lord is my Shepherd, hymn number 18). Such song numbers are being sung in Gujarati churches with utmost spiritual enthusiasm still today. He is known as Gujarati Christian poetry's father. Gujarati hymnal Bhajansangra today includes 90 of his own created hymns and 18 translated lyrics.

Translations to Kannada[edit]


  1. ^ A church history of Gujarat- Robin H. S. Boyd - 1981 "In 1804 two missionaries, W.C. Loveless and Dr. John Taylor, were actually appointed to open up work in Surat,"
  2. ^ The Indian mission of the Irish Presbyterian Church Rev. Robert Jeffrey - 1890 "One of these was detained in Madras, and the other, John Taylor, MD, having been so discouraged by the state of things with which he came into contact, entered the Government service, and died at Shiraz, in Persia, in 1821."
  3. ^ Bombay Guardian obituary The Missionary magazine and chronicle, Volumes 24-25 London Missionary Society 1860
  4. ^ Brenton Hamline Badley Indian missionary directory and memorial volume 1881 "The Irish Presbyterian Mission. As has already been seen, the London Missionary Society occupied Surat (Gujerat) in 1815, ... J V Taylor, who arrived in 1846, and who subsequently connected himself with the Irish missionaries. .."
  5. ^ Christian contribution to Indian languages and literatures Cū In̲n̲āci, Va Jayatēvan̲ - 1994 The most famous grammar written by a missionary was JVS Taylor's (1820-1881) Gujarati Bhashanu Vyakaran
  6. ^ Decentering translation studies: India and beyond Judy Wakabayashi, Rita Kothari - 2009 p219 "The first Gujarati translation was undertaken by the Serampore Mission Press in 1820. Then in 1861 Rev. J. V. S. Taylor translated the Bible into Gujarati"
  7. ^ Edward Noronaha "Christians and Kannada” in Christian contribution to Indian languages and literatures ed. S. Innasi and V. Jayadevan (eds). Madras : Mariyakam, 1994, 61-67. "Right from the start, there have been writers like JVS Taylor in the field of Grammar."