HYMN #527 Near to the Heart of God was written in 1901 by Rev. Cleveland McAfee, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Chicago. He wrote it after receiving news that his two nieces had died of diphtheria. On the day of the double funeral, McAfee sang the hymn outside the quarantined house of his brother. The choir of First Church sang it the following Sunday as part of the congregation’s Communion Service. The hymn remains closely associated with memorial and communion celebrations.