Life and Journal. Hymns and Spiritual Songs : 1802 - 1806.

Call Number: HIL-MICL FC LFR .A4H4L5
Category: Family
Creator: Alline, Henry, 1748-1784.
Description: 1 microfilm textual records () ; 35 mm

Henry Alline was born on 14 June 1748 in Newport, Rhode Island, the son of William Alline and Rebecca Clark. In 1760 when Henry was twelve, his parents joined several thousand New England residents who migrated north to Nova Scotia. With this move, his formal schooling came to an end. The Alline family, including eight children, was part of a large group from Rhode Island and Connecticut which settled in Falmouth Township near Windsor, Nova Scotia, on the shore of Minas Basin. Although the religious affiliation among the migrants included Quaker, Scottish Presbyterian, and a few Baptists, the great majority of the settlers were Congregationalists, and Henry Alline's parents were adherents of this church.

Early in his life Henry displayed an obsession with personal salvation and eternity, and began both wide and intensive reading of theological works. While this program of self education proved to be enlightening, he began to realize that it had brought him no closer to salvation. It was not until 26 March 1775 that he felt the power of a conversion experience, and with it a call to preach the gospel. However, three obstacles stood in his way: He lacked a formal higher education; there was much uncertainty because of the war; and family obligations, because of his aging parents, curtailed his activities. In spite of these constraints, he began preaching in the Falmouth area in April of 1776, and as time went on, he traveled further afield. His career as an evangelist spanned exactly the years of the American Revolution.

From 1779 until 1783, he visited the Minas Basin area, Annapolis Valley, the St. John River settlements of Gagetown and Maugerville, the Sackville-Amherst area,Yarmouth, and the Nova Scotia coastal communities as far as Liverpool. His greatest success occurred among the New England emigrants of the 1760s who had come to rural and frontier Nova Scotia.

Henry Alline died of consumption in early 1784 in North Hampton, New Hampshire, while on a missionary journey to New England that had begun in the fall of 1783. Alline travelled throughout rural Nova Scotia by canoe, horseback, snowshoe, and on foot. His religious meetings were usually held in homes and barns rather than in church buildings where his sermons were delivered without notes. He encouraged prayer and the singing of hymns and wrote many hymns himself. Alline is remembered in the Maritimes as a powerful evangelist and hymnist of the nineteenth century whose personal impact on the lives of ordinary people was profound, and whose legacy continues to this day.


Online: All or some of the documents have been digitised; see Finding Aid section.

Included in this reel are two of Henry Alline's published works: 1. The Life and Journal of the Rev. Mr. Henry Alline (1806); and 2. Hymns and Spiritual Songs by Henry Alline, Late Minister of the Gospel at Falmouth, in Nova Scotia (1802). The material gives insight into an evangelist at the forefront of the evangelical movement in Nova Scotia and present day New Brunswick during the period of the American Revolution. Religion and religious subject matter include theology, music, literature, and evangelicalism.

Henry Alline's Journal is not a diary as such, although a portion of it does follow a dated chronological order. Rather, it is a mix of autobiogaphy, meditation, poetry, and extracts from a journal which no longer exists. The years from 1780 to 1782 when Alline's preaching ministry was at its height are the most complete. The second work, Hymns and Spititual Songs contains five books of verse, one hundred and thirty-four pages in length. Each work is preceded by a sentence briefly describing the subjects as follows:

Book 1 - Chiefly consisting of man's fallen state; together with reproofs to the ungodly, and the language of awakened sinners.

Book 2 - Chiefly consisting of gospel invitations, and a free salvation.

Book 3 - Chiefly consisting on the new Birth and the knowledge and joys of that glorious work.

Book 4 - Consisting chiefly of Christian travels; the joys and trials of the soul.

Book 5 - Consisting chiefly of infinite wonders, transporting views and Christian triumphs.

Originals: The original records are held by Harvard University Library.
Archival Ref. No.: Harvard Can 1700.9; Can 9171.2.1
Finding Aids:

The Life and Journal of the Rev. Mr. Henry Alline was published in Boston by Gilbert and Dean in 1806.

  • Document is digitally available via link from the Libraries' catalogue record (WorldCat); click on title above.

Hymns and Spiritual Songs by Henry Alline, Late Minister of the Gospel at Falmouth, in Nova Scotia was published in Stonington-Port, Connecticut by Trumbull in 1802.

Electronic Finding Aid Record:
Notes: Both the 1797 and 1802 editions of Hymns and Spiritual Songs by Henry Alline, Late Minister of the Gospel at Falmouth, in Nova Scota are available online through Internet Archive (
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