George Washington Bethune was a successful merchant in New York. He studied theology and was offered the chaplaincy of the U.S. Military Academy, the Chancellorship of New York University and the Provostship of University of Pennsylvania, all of which he declined. Bethune once urged his sons and son-in-laws, "My sons, preach the Gospel. Tell dying sinners of a Savior. All the rest is folly."
Bethune was of Huguenot descent, and an outspoken Democrat. Though he opposed slavery he was not sympathetic to abolitionism.
As a Calvinist, Bethune though fishing was an unsuitable hobby for a clergyman. Nevertheless, he worked anonymously on one of Izaak Walton's The Compleat Angler using the pseudonymn The American Editor.
There is no name so sweet on earth,
No name so sweet in Heaven,
The Name, before His wondrous birth
To Christ the Savior given.
We love to sing of Christ our King,
And hail Him, blessèd Jesus;
For there’s no word ear ever heard
So dear, so sweet as “Jesus.”
His human name they did proclaim,
When Abram’s son they sealed Him;
The name that still by God’s good will,
Deliverer revealed Him.
And when He hung upon the tree,
They wrote this Name above Him;
That all might see the reason we
Forevermore must love Him.
So now, upon His Father’s throne,
Almighty to release us
From sin and pain, He gladly reigns,
The Prince and Savior, Jesus.
O Jesus, by that matchless Name,
Thy grace shall fail us never;
Today as yesterday the same,
Thou art the same forever.
Bethune fell ill after preaching during a visit to Florence, Italy. He died of a stroke on April 27, 1862.