A Pastor's Mug?

I have had in my possession, for many years, a mug which was a gift from a nonconformist chapel in Northampton (I choose this drinking vessel sometimes for a visitor if he happens to be a pastor or preacher!). Curious, and knowing little about Philip Doddridge whose portrait adorns the mug, I tried to find out why he was deemed famous enough for a manufacturer to produce such memorabilia. Scouring our higgledy-piggledy collection of books along quite a few (dare I admit dusty?) shelves, eventually I came across just what I needed - Faith Cook’s ‘Our Hymn Writers and their Hymns’. I heartily recommend it as it is well-written and researched. It not being a difficult read, it is nonetheless, truly fascinating.

Philip Doddridge (1702-1751) was the twentieth child born to his mother Monica. Presumed to be stillborn as had the previous nineteen babies, he was laid to one side. An observant midwife heard a sigh which saved him and thus began the life of one who would become greatly used in the hands of God.

Before he could read, apparently his mother began to teach him the history of the Old and New Testaments from the blue and white Dutch chimney-tiles found surrounding the fireplace in the sitting room. Although it is not easy to determine a precise time when Philip became a Christian (His family background was that of those who had suffered for their faith as Dissenters) nevertheless when orphaned at the age of thirteen, he wrote in his diary: ‘God is an immortal Father, my soul rejoiceth in Him. He hath hitherto helped me and provided for me.’

Young Philip was greatly influenced by Samuel Clark, a Presbyterian minister who befriended and guided him through his education and future ministry.  In 1719, Philip Doddridge travelled to Kibworth Harcourt, Leicestershire where he quickly mastered his studies in theology as well as philosophy, the classics and other branches of learning. He preached his first sermon in Hinckley, where he later heard that two had professed faith as a result. His lifelong, great desire was to serve God, as expressed in one of the many hymns he would pen: 

‘My gracious Lord I own thy right

To every service I can pay;

And call it my supreme delight 

To hear thy dictates and obey.’

Should you lift your eyes above the pulpit here at Salem Chapel, Martin Top you will see inscribed the second verse of one of his hymns, (‘And wilt thou, O Eternal God, On earth establish thine abode?) 

These walls to thee thine honour raise,

Long may they echo in thy praise;

And thou, descending, fill the place

With the rich tokens of thy grace.’ 

(I must admit that I had not realised that ‘O happy day that fixed my choice on thee my Saviour and my God…’ was also his composition and ‘Hark the glad sound the Saviour comes…’  Sadly, such ignorance on my part!)


Called to be the pastor of a Congregational chapel, Dr Philip Doddridge would rise each day at 5am to meet His God through prayer and the scriptures in the little building attached to the chapel.

He will be remembered also as a tutor of an academy, a family man, a prolific hymn writer and writer of letters and books. His best-known work, ‘The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul’ was dedicated to Isaac Watts and instrumental in William Wilberforce’s conversion to Christ. Never strong in health, Philip Doddridge died in 1751 whilst in Lisbon, Portugal. His memorial is in the British Cemetery there. 

I wonder what he would make of his portrait being on a twentieth century mug.