Philip Embury

Philip Embury Departure for America

The 1760 summer morning at the Customs House Quay in Limerick, Ireland is alive with well-wishers standing dockside and waving to the young man atop the deck of the departing ship.  This is Philip Embury.

For many years, Philip has been the spiritual leader of this large group of people who have traveled the 16 miles to bid him and his fellow travelers farewell.

Philip’s decision to embark for America is not an easy one.  He is the second generation of Emburys to live in the county Limerick.  His family is one of the German Palatines transplanted from Germany to Ireland, via England, 50 years ago.  In the last year, the rents have tripled, Philip has married and many of his contemporaries can no longer afford to live on the Southwell Estate in Limerick County.  Philip is joined by his dear friends Paul and Barbara Heck.

Adding to the threats of financial ruin and social loneliness is the fact John Wesley has refused to select Philip as a traveling itinerant preacher for the Methodist effort in Ireland.  The failure of selection leads Philip to give up on the idea of joining the august group of traveling preachers; he marries his sweetheart, Mary Switzer, in Rathkeale.  The sour emotions of the rejection linger- compelling Philip to aim for a new start in the colony of New York.

Philip is a talented carpenter by trade.  He is also a good preacher and devoted follower of Christ.

Philip Embury Christian Emigrant’s Farewell Poem

The following poem, Christian Emigrant’s Farewell, captures the emotions of Philip and many like him who choose to leave for the new world:


Land where the bones of our fathers are sleeping,

Land where our dear ones and fond ones are weeping,

Land where the light of Jehovah is shining,

We leave thee repenting, but not with repining.

Land of our fathers, in grief we forsake thee,

Land of our friends, may Jehovah protect thee,

Land of the Church, may the light shine around thee,

Nor darkness, nor trouble, nor sorrow confound thee.

God is thy God; thou shalt walk in His brightness,

Gird thee with joy, let thy robes be of whiteness;

God is thy God!  Let the hills shout with gladness;

But ah!  We must leave thee- we leave thee in sadness.


Dark is our path o’er the dark rolling ocean;

Dark is our hearts; but the fire of devotion

Kindles within:  – and a far distant nation,

Shall learn from our lips the glad song of salvation.

Hail to the land of our toils and our sorrows!

Land of our rest!  –when a few more to-morrows,

Pass o’er our heads, we will seek our cold pillows,

And rest in our graves, far away o’er the billows.