Like a river glorious, is God’s perfect peace; Over all victorious, in its bright increase.
In a previous post, I wrote of the accomplishments of Frances Havergal and the way she sought to glorify the Lord in all she did. Now, I will recount some of the account concerning her death. Havergal suffered ill health for much of her life. At the age of 42, she went on holiday with her family to South Wales. While there, she developed a very severe cold which soon led to an inflammation of the lungs.
Perfect yet it floweth, Fuller every day, Perfect yet it groweth Deeper all the way.
When Havergal was told that her life was in danger, her response was: “If I am really going, it is too good to be true!” Should that not be the response of all Christians–no matter, their age, their goals, their plans? To learn that we may soon be with the One we claim to love? For this was Havergal’s ultimate desire–to be with the One for whom she wrote her poems and hymns.
Hidden in the hollow of his blessed hand–never foe can follow, never traitor stand.
Later she said, “Splendid! To be so near the gates of heaven.” Closer to the end, her sister reported that she sang one of her hymns, “Jesus, I will trust Thee, Trust Thee with my Soul.” Though she was weak and her voice faint, the words were clear to all.
Not a surge of worry, Not a shade of care, Not a blast of hurry, Touch the spirit there.
“She looked up steadfastly, as if she saw the Lord; and surely nothing less heavenly could have reflected such a glorious radiance upon her face. For ten minutes we watched that almost visible meeting with her king, and her countenance was so glad, as if she were already talking to Him! Then she tried to sing; but after one sweet high note, her voice failed, and as her brother commended her soul into the Redeemer’s hand, she passed away.”
Stayed upon Jehovah, Hearts are fully blest, finding as He promised, Perfect peace and rest.
“I should have liked my death to be like Samson’s doing more for God’s glory than by my life; but He wills it otherwise.” Though Havergal could not see it, I believe her death did give glory to God, not only to those who were with her as she went home, but also for those of us who continue to read her words years later.
Quotes taken from Memorials of Frances Ridley Havergal by her sister, M. V. G. H. (Maria V. G. Havergal), April 1880
I enjoy learning about the hymn writers of my favorite hymns because it makes them more meaningful and puts a face and a life to the words. It’s easy just to sing the words of a familiar song and forget that someone wrote them because of a particular event in their life or because of the way the Lord had been dealing in their life at the time.
Take my life and let it be–Consecrated, Lord, to thee. Take my moments and my days; Let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Several months ago I heard a pastor speak about the life of Frances Ridley Havergal (1836-1879) before we sang, “Like a River Glorious.” Intrigued, I began to read more about her, as well as listen to more of her hymns and read some of her poetry. I was impressed in both the way she lived and the way she died. In this post, I will discuss how she lived, and I’ll have a follow up post on how she died.
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.
Born at the rectory in Astley, Worcestershire (England) where her father was the rector, Havergal accomplished much in her short life. From the time she was a young child, she always sought to serve and lift up Jesus. She was writing poetry at the age of seven and had verses published while still a teen in “Good Words.”
Take my voice and let me sing,–Always, only for my King, Take my lips and let them be–Filled with messages for Thee.
Receiving her education at both English and German boarding schools, she proved herself a natural linguist learning Latin, German, Italian, French, Hebrew, and Greek. She also played the piano and was said to be a beautiful singer.
Take my silver and my gold; Not a mite would I withhold; Take my intellect and use–Every power as Thou shalt choose.
Four years after writing the words: “take my silver and my gold,” she packed up and shipped a box of valuable jewelry to a church missionary house. Of the few pieces she kept: “I retain only a brooch or two for daily wear, which are memorials of my dear parents; also a locket with the only portrait I have of my niece, who is in heaven. But these I redeem that the whole value goes to the Church Missionary Society.”
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.
Havergal told the story behind the writing of the hymn “Take My Life and Let It Be” in Memorials of Frances Ridley Havergal. “I went for a little visit of five days (to Areley House). There were ten persons in the house, some unconverted and long prayed for, some converted but not rejoicing Christians. He gave me the prayer ‘Lord, give me all in the house.’ And He just did. Before I left the house every one had got a blessing. The last night of my visit, after I had retired, the governess asked me to go to the two daughters. They were crying. Then and there both of them trusted and rejoiced. It was midnight. I was too happy to sleep and passed most of the night in praise and renewal of my own consecration, and these little couplets formed themselves and chimed in my heart one after another, till they finished with ‘Ever, only, all for Thee.”
Take my love, my Lord, I pour–At thy feet its treasure store.Take myself, and I will be–Ever, only, all for Thee.
One Starry Night (part 3)
A manger, they knew, would be found where the
animals were fed, so they made their way
behind the first inn and followed the sounds
(and smells) of animals whose nightly slumber
had been disturbed. Quietly, they approached
a cave carved into a small hill where the
soft, smoky glow of an oil lamp cast a
shadow. They stopped as one when they reached the
entrance, suddenly unsure of their next
move. Just as Reuben decided to go
forward, the cry of a baby broke the
several of them surprised themselves with tears.
Going in together, they peered in awe
at the sight. A young woman (a girl to
their eyes) along with a man dressed in
garments plain, crouched over a manger where
a newborn infant lay wrapped in cloths just
as the Messenger had told them. They crept
as close as they dared, wondering at the
babe whose birth had been declared to them by
a heavenly being and even sung
about by a heavenly choir. “We
were told to come here,” the old shepherd broke
the silence. “By a . . .” He stopped, unable
to continue and unsure of how to
explain the phenomenon they had witnessed.
The young woman smiled at them. “An angel?”
she suggested. “Yes!” they all said at once.
Then, mindful of the sleeping babe, they told
their story in excited, though hushed whispers.
“Yes, yes! An angel, that’s what he was. A
messenger sent from God. He told us he
had good news.” “Good news for everyone. The
whole world.” “He said it was great joy.” “For
everyone.” “He said we would find a baby.”
“A baby wrapped in cloths.” “In a manger.”
They stopped for breath and gazed anew at the
sleeping babe. How could such a small, helpless
newborn baby be the cause of such a
revelation? Of a heavenly
announcement? The promise of good news for
all people? “He said,” the old shepherd, Asa,
cleared his throat. “He said, the Messenger, I
mean, that this baby is the Christ. Our
Messiah.” Tears filled his eyes. “I never
thought he’d come for me.” The plain-dressed
man, who seemed to be the baby’s guardian,
placed an arm around the old shepherd’s shoulders.
“We were as amazed as you when the
Messenger came to us and gave us the
same good news. This baby is God’s gift to
us and will do more for us than we can
ever imagine.” “We must go and tell
everyone what we have seen and heard,” Asa
declared. His companions, though mildly
amused at the old shepherd’s change of heart,
joyfully agreed. With a final look
at the Christ child and a farewell to the
young couple–whom they all knew would face times
of trouble and sorrow as they raised this
baby in this sin-struck world–they set out
to walk the streets of Bethlehem as morning
broke and people began to stir. They stopped
and told everyone they met of the
celestial announcement they had received
about the baby and the significance
of his arrival. Though some had no interest
in hearing news of any kind from lowly
shepherds, many others marveled at their
story and spread the word throughout their town
and still others carried the story to
their homes in places near and far throughout
Israel. “A baby has been born to you.” P.M. Gilmer Soli Deo gloria
“I feel sure that the great majority of people do like singing. It helps to build up an audience–even if you preach a dry sermon. If you have singing that reaches the heart, it will fill the church every time. There is more said in the Bible about praise than prayer, and music and song have not only accompanied all scriptural revivals, but are essential in deepening spiritual life. Singing does at least as much as preaching to impress the Word of God upon people’s minds. Ever since God first called me, the importance of praise expressed in song has grown upon me.” D. L. Moody