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Frances Ridley Havergal: 1836-1879

by F. W. Pitt

Frances HavergalInteresting particulars of Miss Havergal's life are nearly as well-known as her lovely hymns. She was born at Worcester, [England], where her father was rector of Astley. She was a delicate child, but though not allowed to go to school, she became a scholar, poet and hymn writer. She may rightly be called the Hymnist of Keswick, as the Rev. Evan Hopkins was its theologian. Visitors to the great Convention know how Miss Havergal's hymns, especially "Like a River Glorious," may be heard while passing down a street as the well-known tune floats out on the evening air from the hearts and voices of people in the houses.

Her first well-known hymn was written in 1859, during a visit to Germany, when she was twenty-three years old. It was inspired by a picture of the Crucifixion under which were the words: "I gave My life for thee." The hymn nearly went into the fire, for Frances was dissatisfied with her work; but instead of burning it, on second thought she put it, crumpled and singed, into her pocket. Later on she read the verses to a dear old Christian in an almshouse, who was so delighted with them that the young authoress made copies and sent them to friends.

Miss Havergal's best known hymn was written in 1874, while staying in London with a large family who did not quite share her devotion to the Lord. She prayed for them all, and had the joy of receiving them one after another in her room, where she was able to help them.

Unable to sleep on the last night of her visit, she sat up and wrote, "Take My Life and Let It Be Consecrated, Lord, to Thee."

The hymn, though not great poetry, expresses perfect surrender of the whole being to God. "Take myself, and I will be Ever, only, all for Thee."

Her greatest hymn, in my opinion, is "Thou Art Coming, O My Saviour, Thou Art Coming, O My King," which I include with "Like a River Glorious" and "Take My Life" as quite the best that have been, and perhaps could be, written on the subjects of each.

This gifted and greatly loved songstress died at the Mumbles, Swansea Bay, in 1879, at the early age of 43 years.

Like a River Glorious
Like a river glorious
  Is God's perfect peace,
Over all victorious
  In its bright increase.
Perfect, yet it floweth
  Fuller every day,
Perfect, yet it groweth
  Deeper all the way.
Stayed upon Jehovah,
  Hearts are fully blest,
Finding as He promised,
  Perfect peace and rest.

Hidden in the hollow
  Of His pierced hand,
Never foe can follow,
  Never traitor stand.
Not a surge of worry,
  Not a shade of care,
Not a blast of hurry
  Moves the spirit there.

Every joy or trial
  Falleth from above,
Traced upon our dial
  By the Sun of Love.
We may trust Him fully
  All for us to do,
They who trust Him wholly
  Find Him wholly true.
Stayed upon Jehovah,
Hearts are fully blest—
Finding, as He promised,
Perfect peace and rest.

Thou Art Coming, O My Saviour
Thou art coming, O my Saviour,
  Thou art coming, O my King,
In Thy beauty all resplendent;
In Thy glory all transcendent;
  Well may we rejoice and sing.
Coming in the opening East,
  Herald brightness slowly swells;
Coming, O my glorious Priest,
Hear we not Thy golden bells?

Thou art coming, Thou art coming:
  We shall meet Thee on the way,
We shall see Thee, we shall know Thee,
We shall bless Thee, we shall show Thee
  All our hearts could never say.
What an anthem that will be,
  Ringing out our love to Thee,
Pouring out our rapture sweet
  At Thine own all-glorious feet.

Thou art coming, we are waiting
  With a hope that cannot fail,
Asking not the day nor hour ...
Resting on Thy word of power,
  Anchor'd safe within the veil.
Time appointed may be long,
  But the vision must be sure;
Certainty shall make us strong,
  Joyful patience shall endure.

O the Joy to see Thee reigning,
  Thee, my own beloved Lord!
Every tongue Thy Name confessing,
Worship, honour, glory, blessing,
  Brought to Thee with one accord.
Thee, my Master and my Friend,
  Vindicated and enthroned
Unto earth's remotest end,
  Glorified, adored and owned.

Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.

Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee.

Take my voice and let me sing
Always, only, for my King.
Take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages for Thee.

Take my silver and my gold,
Not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use
Every power as Thou shalt choose.

Take my will and make it Thine,
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart—it is Thine own,
It shall be Thy royal throne.

Take my love: my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure-store.
Take myself, and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.

From The Romance of Women Hymn Writers by F.W. Pitt. Findlay, Ohio: Fundamental Truth Publishers, [n.d.]

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