Walter Chalmers Smith

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Walter Chalmers Smith
The grave of Rev Walter Chalmers Smith, Warriston Cemetery, Edinburgh

Rev Walter Chalmers Smith DD LLD (5 December 1824 – 19 September 1908), was a hymnist, poet and minister of the Free Church of Scotland, chiefly remembered for his hymn "Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise". In 1893 he served as Moderator of the General Assembly for the Free Church of Scotland.[1]


He was born in Aberdeen, the son of Walter Smith, a cabinet-maker living at 16 Blackfriars Street.[2] He was educated at Aberdeen Grammar School.

He studied divinity at Marischal College in the University of Aberdeen and New College, Edinburgh.[3]

He received the honorary degrees of D.D. and LL.D. He was mentioned in Lord Adam Gifford's will.

He died at Kinbuck near Dunblane on 19 September 1908.[4] He is buried in the grave of his father-in-law, Rev James Monteith, in Warriston Cemetery in north Edinburgh. The grave lies just south of the central vaults.


He was married to Agnes Monteith (1830–1886) daughter of Rev James Monteith.

Artistic Recognition[edit]

He was painted by Sir George Reid RSA.[5]


He was ordained pastor of the Chadwell Street Scottish Church, Pentonville, Islington, London, on Christmas Day, 1850. He later served at:

The Free Church of Scotland elected him its moderator during its Jubilee year in 1893. He was a distinguished preacher and a man of catholic sympathies.

Published works[edit]


  • The Bishop's Walk (1860)
  • Hymns of Christ and the Christian Life (1867)
  • Olrig Grange (1872)
  • Borland Hall (1874)
  • Hilda Among the Broken Gods (1878)
  • Raban, or Life Splinters (1880)
  • North Country Folk (1883)
  • Kildrostan (1884)
  • Thoughts and Fancies for Sunday Evenings (1887)
  • A Heretic and Other Poems (1890)

He attained considerable reputation as a poet. Some of these were written under the names of "Orwell" or "Hermann Kunst".


  • Earth was waiting, spent and restless[7]
  • Immortal, invisible, God only wise[8]


  1. ^ Discipleship Ministries. "History of Hymns: “Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise” - Discipleship Ministries | Equipping World-Changing Disciples". Retrieved 2018-02-11. 
  2. ^ Aberdeen Post Office Directory 1825
  3. ^ "Walter Chalmers Smith". The Cyber Hymnal;. Retrieved 2010-08-28. 
  4. ^ "Walter Chalmers Smith - Dictionary of Hymnology". Retrieved 2018-02-11. 
  5. ^ "Rev. Walter Chalmers Smith, 1824 - 1908. Free Church minister and poet | National Galleries of Scotland". Retrieved 2018-02-11. 
  6. ^ "Walter Chalmers Smith (1824-1908). Critical and Biographical Essay by William Garrett Horder. Alfred H. Miles, ed. 1907. The Sacred Poets of the Nineteenth Century". Retrieved 2018-02-11. 
  7. ^ "Earth was waiting, spent and restless" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-03-21. 
  8. ^ "Immortal, invisible, God only wise". The Cyber Hymnal;. Retrieved 2010-08-28. 

Further reading[edit]

Bailey, Albert Edward (1950). The Gospel in Hymns. New York: Charles Scribner's sons. pp. 455–456. 

Julian, John (June 1907). A Dictionary of Hymnology. London: John Murray. p. 1064. 

"Gifford Lecture Series". Retrieved 2007-01-30. 

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainCousin, John William (1910). A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature. London: J. M. Dent & Sons. Wikisource 

External links[edit]