Rev. Dr. Ray Palmer was the son of Judge Thomas Palmer, born in Rhode Island in 1808. He grew up in Boston, where his pastor encouraged him to go to Phillips Academy, Andover. He graduated from Yale College in 1820 and taught at the women’s college while studying theology privately. From 1832 to 1834 he taught at a young ladies’ institute in New Haven, during which time he continued his theological studies. He entered the ministry in 1834.
Palmer was pastor of the Congregational Church at Bath, Maine from 1835 to 1850 and the First Congregational Church of Albany, New York from 1850 to 1865. Following that, for thirteen years, he was Corresponding Secretary of the American Congregational Union until he retired in 1878.
Palmer published eleven volumes between 1829 and 1881. Among them are Closet Hours (1851), Hymns and Sacred Pieces (1865), Hymns of My Holy Hours and Other Pieces (1868) Complete Poetical Works (1876). He wrote 38 hymns and, inspired by the Oxford Movement, he was one of the first people to translate Latin texts into hymns. His translations were considered “beautiful and inspirational.”
Dr. Duffield, author of English Hymns, said of Palmer, “He has written more and better hymns than any other American.” W.H. Parker wrote in his Psalmody of the Church, “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.” (Portions taken from The Center for Church Music)