Lynch, Thomas Toke (DNB00)

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LYNCH, THOMAS TOKE (1818–1871), hymn-writer, son of John Burke Lynch, surgeon, was born at Dunmow, Essex, 5 July 1818. He was educated at a school in Islington, London, where he was afterwards an usher. In 1841 he became a Sunday-school teacher and district visitor, occasionally preaching and giving lectures on sightsinging and temperance. In 1843 he entered Highbury Independent College, but shortly withdrew, mainly from ill-health. He was pastor of Highgate Independent Church 1847-9, and of a congregation in Mortimer Street, which migrated to Grafton Street, Fitzroy Square, 1849-52. In September 1849 he married a daughter of the Rev. Edward Porter of Highgate, and in 1852 delivered a course of lectures on literature at the Royal Institution, Manchester. Owing to failing health he resigned his charge in 1856, but resumed it in 1860 in Gower Street, pending the opening of Mornington Church, a new structure in the Hampstead Road (pulled down in 1888 for the enlargement of Euston Station), where he laboured till his death on 9 May 1871.

Lynch's congregations were always small, and he was not attractive as a preacher. His 'Hymns for Heart and Voice: The Rivulet,' were first issued in 1855 (2nd edit. 1856, 3rd edit. 1868), and were declared to be pantheistic and theologically unsound. A long-and excited discussion, known as 'the "Rivulet" controversy,' ensued. Lynch himself replied to his opponents in 'The Ethics of Quotation,' and in a pamphlet of doggerel verse, entitled 'Songs Controversial' (both London, 1856, and issued under the pseudonym of 'Silent Long'). A full account of the controversy is given in his 'Memoirs.' Lynch had undoubtedly a cultivated mind and the true poetic spirit; but the hymns in the 'Rivulet' express too exclusively an admiration for nature to be suitable for Christian worship. Nine of his hymns are included in the new 'Congregational Church Hymnal' (London, 1887); but none of them are popular in the churches. He was the author of several prose works, which included, in addition to lectures, addresses, sermons, controversial tracts, and magazine articles:

  1. 'Thoughts on a Day' (London, 1844).
  2. 'Memorials of Theophilus Trinal (ib. 1850).
  3. 'Essays on some of the Forms of Literature' (ib. 1863).
  4. 'Sermons to my Curates,' edited by the Rev. Samuel Cox (ib. 1871).
  5. 'Letters, etc., contributed to "Christian Spectator," 1855-6' (ib. 1872).

He was a cultured musician, and composed several 'Tunes to Hymns in the "Rivulet,"' twenty-five of which, edited by Thomas Pettit, were published after Lynch's death under that title (London, 1872), with an amusing preface signed 'Theodore Burkeson,' which was found among Lynch's papers. His portrait appears in his 'Memoirs,' edited by William White (London. 1874).

[Memoirs as above; A Critical and Descriptive Notice of the Rev. T. T. Lynch, reprinted, with additions, from the Marylebone Mercury (London, 1859, pp. 20); Miller's Singers and Songs of the Church; Julian's Dictionary of Hymnology; Rivulet Controversy Literature.]

J. C. H.