“A name that will linger long in the memory of those who love to sing the songs of Zion, is that of Anne Steele.
She was born in 1716, and was the eldest daughter of William Steele, pastor of the Baptist Church at Broughton, England. She united herself with the church when fourteen years of age, and remained in connection with her father’s church till in her sixty-second year she was transferred to the skies.
She commenced writing poetry in early life, but withheld her name.
In her father’s diary, dated Nov. 29. 1757, is made this entry concerning the issue of her first production:
“This day, Nanny sent part of her composition to London, to be printed. I entreat a gracious God, who enabled, and stirred her up to such a work, to direct in it and bless it for the good of many. **** I pray God to make it useful, and keep her humble.”
Any one who traces the influences that her hymns have already wielded for over a century can see a bountiful answer to this father’s prayer and solicitude.
Having consented, in early life, to be wedded to Mr. Elscourt, a young man of promise, the day of the wedding was fixed. But a short time before the appointed hour, he went down in the river to bathe, when getting beyond his depth, he was drowned.
Through an accident in her childhood, Miss Steele was made a sufferer, and an invalid all through life. In the retirement of her sick-chamber she was taught the lesson by experience, that she breathes out so sweetly in her hymn:—
“Give me a calm, a thankful heart,
From every murmur free;
The blessings of Thy grace impart,
And make me live to Thee.”
The death of her father in 1769 was a great shock to her frail tenement, from which she never fully recovered. From this time, she was confined to her chamber, and “looked with sweet resignation to the time of her removal from earth, and when it happily arrived, she was, amidst great pain, full of peace and joy. She took the most affectionate leave of her friends who stood weeping around her, and uttering the triumphant words, ‘I Know that my Redeemer liveth,’ closed her eyes, and fell asleep in Jesus.” Thus she departed in 1778.
The one hundred and forty-four hymns, and thirty-four Psalms that issued from her pen, she lay upon the altar as an entire consecration to Him she so dearly loved, and would only permit them to be published with the understanding that all the profits should go to benevolent objects. It is supposed “that no woman, and but few men, ever wrote so many hymns that have been so generally acceptable in the church as did Miss Steele.”
One secret of the success of her hymns, no doubt, is the warmth of her heart-breathings after Him, of whom she beautifully says:–“
“Jesus, my Lord, in Thy dear name unite
All things my heart calls great or good or sweet;
Divinest springs of wonder and delight,
In Thee, Thou fairest of ten thousand, meet,”
The above passage is from the "Illustrated History of Hymns and Their Authors," published in 1875, pages 360-363.
Melody Publications’ focus is to reawaken the melody of truth in believers' hearts and minds at home and abroad. Our prayer is that our work would aid churches and families as they sing "Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs" in praise and worship to our God.
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