December 29, 1809: William Gladstone, four-time British prime minister, is born in Liverpool, England. One scholar has called him "the epitome of all that the evangelicals and the English public asked for in their politicians" (see issue 53: William Wilberforce and the Century of Reform).
December 29, 1849: The carol "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear," by pastor Edmund H. Sears, appears for the first time in The Christian Register.
December 29, 1851: The first Y.M.C.A. in the United States is organized in Boston.
December 29, 1876: Hymnwriter Philip P. Bliss and his wife fall to their deaths when a bridge collapses under the train they were riding. Bliss's compositions include "Man of Sorrows—What a Name!"; "Jesus Loves Even Me"; "Almost Persuaded"; the music to "It Is Well with My Soul"; and one hymn discovered in his trunk, which was on a different train that night: "I Will Sing of My Redeemer.