George Duffield was born on September 12, 1818, in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
He graduated from Yale and Union Theological Seminary. He also had a D.D. from Knox College for his many accomplishments.
He served for seven years as a member of the Board of Regents of the University of Michigan.
He was pastor of the Temple Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia.
A businessman that had left Philadelphia to work in New York was impressed at the Prayer revival meetings being held there, and was able to get support to do the same thing in Philadelphia. George Duffield was the chairman of the Philadelphia Young Men’s Christian Association, and did the official sponsorship of the meetings with George Stewart and John Wanamaker.
The meetings started on November 23, 1857, with less than 20 in attendance. For six months the attendance was never more than 36, and the pastor of the church they were using became hostile, causing John Wanamaker to seek another location. They decided to move to a more central location and on February 3, 1858, the meetings were held in a different hall. There the meetings were very popular, and the little room was filled with 300 in attendance! On March 10, they opened the main hall, and it filled to overflowing!
Pastor Dudley Tyng was the speaker of these noon meetings, and on March 30, 1858, over 5,000 were in attendance. At that meeting, Pastor Tyng stated he would rather give his right arm than not deliver God’s message. The two weeks later his arm was severed from his body, and he died. The speaker literally reached more men for Christ in his death than in his life!
When Tyng’s close friend, Pastor Duffield, was giving a memorial message the Sunday following Pastor Tyng’s funeral, at the Temple Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia, he closed that service with a poem, inspired by Tyng’s life and dying message, “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus.” The Sunday School Superintendent at the Temple Presbyterian Church took the poem and distributed it to all who attended. The poem was then taken by an editor of a Baptist magazine, giving it a wide circulation. From there music was added to it, and it became a well known hymn. The poem went on and became very influential in stirring up people in anti-slavery rallies, and in inspiring the feeling of needing to fill Tyng’s empty shoes.
For more about the hymn:
The Philadelphia Prayer Meetings continued, and the YMCA was forced to erect a huge tent to accommodate the 200,000 in attendance in May.
Pastor Duffield was a preacher for 48 years.
He died in Bloomfield, New Jersey on July 6, 1888.
Maxie Dunnam and Lloyd J. Ogilvie, The Preacher's Commentary Series: Exodus, Formerly The Communicator's Commentary, The Preacher's Commentary series (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1987), Vol. 2, p. 334.
John D. Hanna, “The Layman’s Prayer Revival of 1858,” Bibliotheca Sacra (Dallas, TX: Dallas Theological Seminary, 1977), Vol. 134, No. 533, p. 65-66.
Kenneth W. Osbeck, 101 Hymn Stories (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel Publications, 1982) p. 237.
Kenneth W. Osbeck, Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel Publications, 1990) p. 310.
Robert J. Morgan, On This Day: 365 Amazing and Inspiring Stories about Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997), March 30.