Behind the Hymn: A Child of the King

This is a song I’ve always loved.  Daddy and I performed this song together several times.

Harriett Buell wrote the song one Sunday morning walking home from the church service at her local Methodist church.

I'm a Child of the King

I’m a Child of the King

Harriett Eugenia Peck Buell was born in 1834 Ca­ze­no­via, New York.  She contributed numerous poems to the Northern Christian Advocate.  She died February 6, 1910 in Washington, DC.

She then sent the text to Northern Christian Advocate, and it was printed in the February 1, 1877 issue.

The poem was titled “The Child of a King.”

John Sumner had been praying for a Gospel song to write.  This song would replace the one his friend, Philip Bliss, had promised to write before his untimely death.

John Bunnell Sumner was born in 1838 Pennsylvania.  He attended Wyoming Seminary in Pennsylvania.  He served as minister in Methodist churches in Pennsylvania and New York, as well as being a well-known traveling singing teacher.  He formed the Wyoming Conference Trio in the 1880s.  He died on May 10, 1918 in Johnson City, New York.

When Sumner saw these words in the publication, he knew his prayer had been answered.  He set a melody to the poem.

Evangelist Peter P. Bilhorn, recounts the following story from 1883: “We had start­ed up the Mis­sou­ri Riv­er for Bis­marck, and on Sun­day we stopped at a new town, named Blunt, to un­load some freight. A crowd of men and boys came down to the wharf. I took my lit­tle or­gan, went on the wharf-boat, and sang a few songs—among others the glor­i­ous hymn, ‘I’m a child of of a King.’ I thought no­thing more of the oc­ca­sion un­til long af­ter­ward, when I sang the same song in Mr. Moo­dy’s church in Chi­ca­go [Il­li­nois]. Then a man in the back part of the house arose, and said in a trem­bling voice: ’Two years ago I heard that song at Blunt, Da­ko­ta; I was then an un­saved man, but that song set me to think­ing, and I de­cid­ed to ac­cept Christ, and I am now stu­dy­ing for the min­is­try.’”

The song reminds us that we are all God’s children, regardless of who we are or what we have done.