Samuel Francis Smith was born in Newton, Massachusetts on October 21, 1808. He died on November 16, 1895 and was buried in the Newton Cemetery. He became an excellent student and was soon prepared for college in the Latin School of Boston. He graduated from Harvard in 1829, and immediately entered the Andover Theological Institute.
He wrote "My Country ‘Tis of Thee" on February 2, 1832, the same year he graduated from Andover (for more see the Hymn Story below).
After he graduated from seminary, Smith became the editor of The Baptist Magazine.
He was a successful pastor and a great advocate of the new interest of Baptists in the work of foreign missions. He admired Adoniram Judson and because of him, Smith was interested in foreign missionary work. He wrote the hymn that is popular among the missionaries: "The Morning Light Is Breaking."
He served for seven years as the editor of Christian Review and then became the editor and translator for the Missionary Union for fifteen years.
Mr. Smith also visited and ministered to Missionaries in Burma, India, Ceylon, France, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Austria, Turkey, Greece, Italy, and Spain. He was remarkably accomplished in 15 different languages, and began the study of Russian when 86, just a year before he died.
Mr. Smith wrote nearly 150 hymns. Mr. Smith also had a son called Rev. A. W. Smith, who was a Baptist missionary to Burma, and served as president of the Theological Seminary at Rangoon.
Some of the hymns he wrote were:
Justin Kollmeyer. "My Country, ‘Tis of Thee." The Citizens Online Fayette County, Georgia. July 2, 2000.
E. Wayne Thompson and David L. Cummins. This Day in Baptist History. Greenville, South Carolina: Bob Jones University Press, 1926. Page 44,45
The Inkwell Gallery. Gettysburg, PA. "Samuel F. Smith"
Photo from Kenneth W. Osbeck, 101 Hymn Stories (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel Publications, 1982). p. 162.