Biography Henry Van Dyke
- Time Period1852 - 1933
- CountryUnited States
He graduated from Princeton University, 1873, and from Princeton Theological Seminary, 1877 and served as a professor of English literature at Princeton between 1899 and 1923. In 1908-09 Dr. van Dyke was an American lecturer at the University of Paris. By appointment of President Wilson he became Minister to the Netherlands and Luxembourg in 1913. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters and received many other honors. His son is Tertius van Dyke.
He chaired the committee that wrote the first Presbyterian printed liturgy, The Book of Common Worship of 1906. Among his popular writings are the two Christmas stories The Other Wise Man (1896) and The First Christmas Tree (1897). Various religious themes of his work are also expressed in his poetry, hymns and the essays collected in Little Rivers (1895) and Fishermans Luck (1899). He wrote the lyrics to the popular hymn, "Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee" (1907), sung to the tune of Beethoven's Ode to Joy. He compiled several short stories in The Blue Flower (1902) named after the key symbol of Romanticism introduced first by Novalis. He also contributed a chapter to the collaborative novel, The Whole Family (1908). Among his poems is Katrina's Sundial, the inspiration for the song Time Is by the group It's a Beautiful Day on their eponymous 1969 debut album.
Van Dyke's "Essays in Application" (1905) was quoted by Jack London in the dystopian novel "The Iron Heel". London disliked Van Dyke's ideas, but paid him the compliment of predicting that his writings would still be remembered six hundred years into the future and be cited by a Twenty-Sixth Century writer as "an example of bourgeois thinking".
Specifically, London took issue with van Dyke's statement
"The Bible teaches that God owns the world. He distributes to every man according to His own good pleasure, conformably to general laws."
This London considered as similar to the statement of the Charleston Baptist Association in the 1830's, which justified slavery on theological grounds.