Samuel Longfellow was born in Portland, Maine, on June 13, 1819. He was the younger brother of the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He received an AB from Harvard in 1839 and graduated from Harvard Divinity School in 1846. He was ordained by the Unitarian Church in Fall River, Massachusetts, on February 16, 1848, and served that church until 1851. From 1853 to 1860, he was minister of the Second Unitarian Congregational Society in Brooklyn, New York, and from 1878 to 1882, he was the minister of the Germantown, Pennsylvania, Unitarian Church. He died in Portland, Maine, on October 3, 1892.
He is best remembered as a hymn writer ("God of the Earth, the Sky, the Sea," "Light of Ages and of Nations," "Now on Land and Sea Descending," and "One Holy Church of God Appears" are only a few of the many of his hymns that have had continuous use). With his HDS classmate Samuel Johnson (1822-82), he compiled of two influential hymnals, Book of Hymns (1846; enlarged edition, 1848) and Hymns of the Spirit (1864). He also compiled Vespers (1859), for use in the vesper services he had instituted in Brooklyn, and A Book of Hymns and Tunes for the Sunday-School, the Congregation, and the Home (1860).
For more information, see Samuel Longfellow: Memoir and Letters edited by Joseph May. (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1894). [Photo bMS 1446/117]