Anne Steele – A Hymn Story

This Anne Steele hymn story is one of the most searched and viewed posts on GraceSyallabes. I hope you enjoy the reblog about her life of hymn-writing.

GraceSyllables

This “Hymn Story” highlights the life and works of Anne Steele (1717-1778). Anne was one of the first significant female hymn writers and she wrote 144 of them. One my favorites is When I Survey Life’s Varied Scene and I’ve included it below.

Enduring much hardship in her life, Anne’s hymns are most known for laments that encourage us to trust God through difficulties. This particular hymn offers hope and brings powerful praise by focusing on His grace in the midst of struggle.

There is controversy surrounding her story, but shouldn’t every good story have a little controversy? Hymnary.org is one source that provides the following details of her life:

“Anne Steele was born at Broughton, Hampshire, in 1717. Her father was a timber merchant, and at the same time officiated as the lay pastor of the Baptist Society at Broughton (England). Her mother died when she was 3. At the age of 19 she became an…

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Child of Grace

Merry Christmas! Below is a Christmas Carol I wrote two years ago and thought I would share again.

GraceSyllables

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The angels praised the Child of Grace,
From old, in wonders of glory,
Then they appeared with voices clear,
To tell shepherds their story.
For the Christ, the Lord, He has come,
He has been born in Bethlehem,
O hear! Please hear! This is the One,
This Child is the Son of God.

The shepherds praised the Child of Grace,
When they found Him in a manger,
Then they explained what they had seen,
Words, Mary’s heart would treasure.
His hands, those hands, have weighed mountains,
His voice made stars by the thousands,
O sleep, in peace, dear sleepy One,
This Child is the Son of God.

And now we praise the Child of Grace,
Who grew in strength and wisdom,
His righteousness would be His gift,
To those He came to ransom.
What Grace! This Grace! Death to taste,
On the cross where our sins were placed,
O Praise!…

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Abide With Me

This is the best known hymn of Henry Francis Lyte (1793-1847) who wrote it not long before he died. His biographies reveal he was no stranger to difficulties and poor health.

His parents separated when he was 8 or 9 and he never saw his mother again. His Father was an army officer who began to represent himself as an uncle, and his second wife as his aunt (Source: J.R. Watson, The English Hymn: A Critical and Historical Study who cites B.G. Skinner, Henry Francis Lyte, Brixham’s Poet and Priest).

In setting up this hymn, J. R. Watson also writes:

“There are many poems by Lyte which re-enact the process of separation from the beloved, either by death or parting.”

“Lyte was obsessed by darkness, separation, and loss”

What is often found in Lyte’s hymns “is a use of words in patterns, He has a striking ability to produce a phrase, and then repeat it, or vary it, or turn it back on itself.”

“It was not for nothing that he strove all his life to find rest, the stability in God that he had never had as a child. All these things go into the making of ‘Abide with me’. And because of this, (the) hymn expresses deep and mysterious truths about human nature, neither presuming nor despairing, but placing the hope of heaven against the shortness of life and the helplessness of human kind.”

“As the manuscript tells us, Lyte had in his mind Luke 24:29, Abide with us, for it is toward Evening, and the day is far spent.”

Abide With Me

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

Not a brief glance I beg, a passing word;
But as Thou dwell’st with Thy disciples, Lord,
Familiar, condescending, patient, free.
Come not to sojourn, but abide with me.

Come not in terrors, as the King of kings,
But kind and good, with healing in Thy wings,
Tears for all woes, a heart for every plea,
Come, Friend of sinners, and thus bide with me.

Thou on my head in early youth didst smile;
And, though rebellious and perverse meanwhile,
Thou hast not left me, oft as I left Thee,
On to the close, O Lord, abide with me.

I need Thy presence every passing hour.
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

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