Joseph Swain (poet)

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Headstone of Joseph Swain, Bunhill Fields, London

Joseph Swain (1761 – 14 April 1796) was a British Baptist minister, poet and hymnwriter. Born in Birmingham, and orphaned at an early age, he was apprenticed as an engraver in Birmingham and afterwards in London. He experienced a religious conversion in 1782, and was baptised by John Rippon in the Baptist meeting-house in Carter Lane, Tooley Street, Southwark, on 11 May 1783. He subsequently became a Baptist minister in Walworth from 1792 until his death in 1796. He was a popular preacher, and during the period of his ministry it became necessary to extend the church building on three occasions.

He was also a writer of devotional poems and hymns, many of which remained popular through the 19th century, although now largely forgotten. Many were published under the collective title Walworth Hymns in 1792. A version of his hymn "My Song in the Night" was included on the album Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing released by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in 2009.

Swain died aged 35 on 14 April 1796. He was buried in Bunhill Fields burial ground in London. His headstone, recovered from its original site following bomb damage in World War II, is now located next to those of William Blake and Daniel Defoe.


  • bio of Swain
  • Carlyle, E. I.; Briggs, J.H.Y (reviewer) (2004). "Swain, Joseph (1761–1796)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/26811. (subscription required)
  • Jones, J. A., ed. (1849). Bunhill Memorials: sacred reminiscences of three hundred ministers and other persons of note, who are buried in Bunhill Fields, of every denomination. London: James Paul. pp. 268–73.