by George J. Dance

H Alline Monument

Henry Alline monument, Nova Scotia. Photo by Hantsheroes. Licensed under Creative Commons, Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Henry Alline
Born June 14, 1748
Newport, Rhode Island
Died January 28, 1784 (aged 35)
North Hampton, New Hampshire
Occupation itinerant preacher
Citizenship British subject
Education public school
Period 1776-1783
Genres hymns
Notable work(s) Hymns and Spiritual Songs

Henry Alline (June 14, 1748 - January 28, 1784) was a New England evangelist, hymnist, and theologian, who "is looked upon as a major influence in the establishment of the Baptist Church in the Maritimes."[1]


Alline was born at Newport, Rhode Island, the 2nd son of Emma (Clark) and William Alline.

In 1760, attracted by the promise of free land in Nova Scotia, the Allines moved to what would become Falmouth, and Henry grew to manhood in the Nova Scotia backwoods. A contemporary account describes him as, "medium size, straight, thin of body, [with] light complexion, light curly hair, and dreamy blue eyes."[2]

The New Light Experience of Henry Alline - Part I

The New Light Experience of Henry Alline - Part I

In 1775 Alline received a powerful conversion experience and a simultaneous call to the ministry. As he put it, "redeeming love broke into my soul - with such power that my whole soul seemed to be melted down with love - and my will turned of choice after the infinite God." He began preaching a year later.[3]

The New Light Experience of Henry Alline (Part II)

The New Light Experience of Henry Alline (Part II)

From 1776 until his death in 1784, Alline travelled throughout Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, working tirelessly on behalf of the religious revival called the "New Light" movement,[1] which has been called "the greatest revival that Canada has ever seen."[3] "From his base in Falmouth - for he never entirely freed himself from his family - he travelled for 6 to 9 months of the year by horseback, boat, snowshoe, or on foot. During the course of his career he covered most of Nova Scotia and the settled parts of what is now New Brunswick."[2] The Canadian Encyclopedia (CE) calls him "a persuasive preacher" and "a prolific writer and speaker committed to music as a part of religious worship."[1]

His followers, known as "Allinites,"[1] compared him to George Whitefield and John the Baptist. Others called him a dangerous fanatic and a "ravager of congregations." The Congregationalists refused to let him preach in their churches, so he spoke in houses, barns, and the outdoors. In 8 years, he founded 8 "New Light Congregationalist" churches.[3]

In his last years Alline suffered from consumption, which finally killed him. Historian J.M. Bumsted observes that a "consumptive mien would likely have added to his impact upon others, making him seem a Nova Scotian John the Baptist." He died in 1784 in North Hampton, New Hampshire; "not far," Bumsted notes, "from the home of Benjamin Randall, founder of the Freewill Baptist movement in the United States based largely upon Alline's ideas."[2]


During the same time he wrote his major work on theology, Two Mites on Some of the Most Important and Much Disputed Points of Divinity (1781), which expressed "strong anti-Calvinist" views.He also wrote 5 religious pamphlets, plus his autobiographical Life and Journal (published in 1806).[1]

In addition, he wrote or collected nearly 500 hymns, which he published as Hymns and Spiritual Songs, in two volumes, 1782 - 1786. CE calls the work "accomplished."[4]


While "Henry Alline has never been completely neglected by Maritime historians," says the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, "his career and activities have taken on a new importance in recent years, as evidenced in the many studies of them which have appeared since 1945. The new interest reflects a changing emphasis in historical scholarship, away from the study of formalized and centralized elites ... and toward the understanding of the lives, thoughts, and aspirations of ordinary people. The Great Awakening in Nova Scotia ... is now recognized as a popular movement, indeed the major popular movement of its time. Henry Alline, as its early leader, has begun to take on the character of a folk hero.... In his anti-materialism, anti-institutionalism, and even in his mysticism, Alline was rebelling against his society and searching for a new meaning to life. Such responses seem far more comprehensible in our confused modern society than they did to our more optimistic ancestors."[2]



  • Hymns and Spiritual Songs. Boston: printed by Peter Edes, 1786; Dover, NH: printed by Samuel Bragg, Jun., 1797; 3rd edition, Stoningtonport, CT: printed by S. Trumbull, 1802
  • Selected Hymns and Spiritual Songs (edited by Thomas Brewer Vincent). Kingston, ON: Loyal Colonies Press, 1982.


  • Two Mites on Some of the Most Important and Much Disputed Points of Divinity: Cast into the treasury for the welfare of the poor and needy, and committed to the perusal of the unprejudiced and impartial reader. Halifax, NS: printed by A. Henry, 1781.
  • A Sermon Preached on the 19th of Feb. 1783 at Fort-Midway. Halifax, NS: printed by A. Henry, 1783.
  • A Gospel Call to Sinners! A sermon. Newburyport, MA: printed by Blunt & March, 1795.
  • Two Mites: Cast into the offering of God, for the benefit of mankind. Dover, NH: printed by Samuel Bragg, Jun., 1804.
  • Sermons (edited by George A. Rawlyk). Hantsport, NS: Lancelot Press, for Acadia Divinity College & Baptist Historical Committee of the United Baptist Convention of the Atlantic Provinces, 1986.

Collected editionsEdit

  • Selected Writings (edited by George A. Rawlyk). New York: Paulist Press, 1987.


  • Life and Journal (edited by James A. Beverley & Barry Moody). Hantsport, NS: Lancelot Press, for Acadia Divinity College & Baptist Historical Committee of the United Baptist Convention of the Atlantic Provinces, 1982.

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy WorldCat.[5]

See alsoEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Douglas Lochhead, "Alline, Henry," Canadian Encyclopedia, Edmonton: Hurtig, 1988, 65. Print.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 J.M. Bumsted, "Alline, Henry," Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online, Web, June 12, 2011.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Tony Cauchi, "Henry Alline - 1748-1784," Revival Library, Web, June 12 2011.
  4. D.M.R. Bentley, "Pre-Confederation poetry," "Poetry in English" Canadian Encyclopedia (Edmonton: Hurtig, 1988, 1696. Print.
  5. Search results = au:Henry Alline, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, Oct. 28, 2016.

External linksEdit

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