Palmer, Ray, an eminent Congregational minister, son of Judge Thomas Palmer, was born at Little Compton, R. I., November 12, 1808. At thirteen years of age he became a clerk in a dry goods store in Boston, where he identified himself with the Park Street Congregational Church, whose pastor, Dr. S. E. Dwight, discerning the promise of great usefulness in the boy, took a deep interest in him, inducing him to go to Phillips Academy, Andover, where he prepared for Yale College, from which institution he was graduated in 1820. The next year he lived in New York City, taking up the study of theology privately and supporting himself by teaching in a woman's college. He taught in a young ladies' institute at New Haven during 1832-34, continuing his theological studies and entering the ministry at the close of this period. From 1835 to 1850 he was pastor of the Congregational Church at Bath, Me., and from 1850 to 1865 he was pastor of the First Congregational Church of Albany, N. Y. For thirteen years (1865-78) he lived in New York City and filled the office of Corresponding Secretary of the American Congregational Union. He resigned this office in 1878 and retired to private life, making his home in Newark, N. J., until his death, March 29, 1887. Between 1829 and 1881 he published eleven volumes, among them Hymns and Sacred Pieces, 1865, and Hymns of My Holy Hours and Other Pieces, 1868. About forty of Dr. Palmer's hymns have found a place in the various Church hymnals. He is regarded by many as the greatest hymn writer that America has produced, and his hymn beginning "My faith looks up to thee" as the greatest hymn of American origin. "He has written more and better hymns than any other American," says Dr. Duffield, author of English Hymns. "In their tender spirit of reverential worship, the beauty of their poetical conceptions, the choiceness of their diction, and the gracefulness of their expression the hymns of Ray Palmer are unsurpassed by any similar compositions in the language," says W. H. Parker in his Psalmody of the Church. "The best of his hymns, by their combination of thought, poetry, and devotion, are superior to almost all others of American origin." So writes Prof. F. M. Bird In Julian's Dictionary of Hymnology.
Come, Holy Ghost, in love 184
My faith looks up to thee 334
Jesus, these eyes have never seen 537
Jesus, thou Joy of loving hearts 536