Cleland B. McAfee

Cleland Boyd McAfee

Born: Sep­tem­ber 25, 1866, Ash­ley, Mis­sou­ri.
Died: Feb­ru­ary 4, 1944, Mis­sion Hos­pi­tal, Ashe­ville, North Ca­ro­li­na.
Buried: Ha­no­ver Ce­me­tery, Ha­no­ver, In­di­ana.

Hymns by Cleland McAfee

Cleland Boyd McAfee: A Life of Faith, Tragedy, and Enduring Hymns

Cleland Boyd McAfee, born on September 25, 1866, in Ashley, Missouri, was a man whose life was marked by deep devotion, heartbreaking loss, and the creation of a timeless hymn that has brought comfort to countless souls.

The son of John Armstrong McAfee, founder and president of Park College, Cleland followed in his father’s footsteps, graduating from Park College in 1884 and later from Union Theological Seminary in New York. He dedicated his life to serving God and others, working as a professor, choir director, pastor, and dean at his alma mater until 1901.

Tragedy struck McAfee’s life when two of his young nieces succumbed to diphtheria. In the midst of his grief, he penned the words to “Near to the Heart of God,” a hymn that has since become a beloved source of solace for those in mourning.

McAfee’s ministry extended far beyond the walls of Park College. He pastored the First Presbyterian Church of Chicago and the Lafayette Avenue Church of Brooklyn, and taught systematic theology at McCormick Theological Seminary. A leader in the Presbyterian Church, he served as moderator of the General Assembly and led the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions from 1930 to 1936.

Though he is best remembered for his hymn, McAfee’s legacy also includes his influential treatise, “The Greatest English Classic: A Study Of The King James Version Of The Bible,” and his role in creating the acronym TULIP, which represents the Five Points of Calvinism.

Cleland Boyd McAfee’s life was one of service, faith, and the transformative power of music to bring hope in the darkest of times. His enduring hymn remains a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the comfort found in the presence of God.

Don Chapman

Don Chapman

Composer/arranger Don Chapman has created HYMNDEX as a labor of love to help new generations learn about the lives, legacies and lyrics of historic hymn writers.