Sabine Baring- Gould (1834-1924) Beyond the Christian Soldier: A Critical Biography

Author: Rogal, Samuel J.
The name Sabine Baring-Gould resides in the memories of relatively few persons who specialize in English hymnody and in the general areas of Victorian and Edwardian literature. Those few might connect the name with the text of the once-classic congregational hymn, “Onward Christian Soldiers,” but the odds against that association have increased significantly. Those persons, as well as the elderly churchgoers, undoubtedly have never given thought to the fact that the literary reputation of Baring Gould formerly extended far beyond a single congregational hymn.


Born in Exeter, Devonshire, Savine Baring-Gould (1834-1924) spent a large portion of his early years traveling with his family in Europe. Following his graduation from Clare Hall, Cambridge, he taught for a short period, then entered into Holy Orders of the Church of England. He ministered in various parishes in Yorkshire, married a local woman, and in 1871 accepted an ecclesiastical living in East Mersea, Sussex, where he wrote his most popular novel, Mehalah. From 1881 until his death, Baring-Gould served as both rector and squire of the parish and family estate of Lew Trenchard, Devonshire, by Dartmoor. In all, he published approximately 160 books of various forms and genres – poetry, theology, Church history, biography, travel, folklore, and fiction. As archaeologist, anthropologist, and patron of religious paintings, Baring-Gould emerged as one of the foremost collectors of English folk song. As a poet of congregational hymnody, he has long been remembered for two hymns – “Onward Christian Soldiers!” and “Now the day is over”.

Table of Contents

1. The Family
2. Early Life
3. Education
4. The Traveler in the Service of School and Church
5. Lew Trenchard
6. A Poet of the Church
7. The Writer
a. Description and Travel
b. Devotional and Theological
c. Fiction
d. Folklore
e. Miscellaneous
f. Contributions to Periodicals
8. “Now the day is over”: The Final Years
9. Sabine Baring-Gould: A Bibliographic Checklist
10. Works Cited and Consulted
11. Index