"Keeping the Hymns Close By"
‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus
– Louisa M.R. Stead, c. 1850 - 1917
– William J. Kirkpatrick, 1838 - 1921
Ephesians 1:12, 13 – That ye should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise.
‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus” was written by a most remarkable woman, Louisa M. R. Stead, out of one of her darkest hours – the tragic drowning of her husband.
Louisa Stead was born about 1850, at Dover, England. As a young child she felt the call of God upon her life for missionary service. She arrived in America in 1871. In 1875, Louisa married a Mr. Stead, and to this union was born a daughter, Lily. When the child was four years of age, the family decided one day to enjoy the sunny beach at Long Island Sound, New York. While eating their picnic lunch, they suddenly heard cries of help and spotted a drowning boy in the sea. Mr. Stead charged into the water. As often happens, however, the struggling boy pulled his rescuer under the water with him, and both drowned. Out of her “why?” struggle with God during the ensuing days flowed these meaningful words from the soul of Louisa Stead:
‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His word; Just to rest upon His promise; just to know, ‘Thus saith the Lord.’
A short time later, Mrs. Stead and her daughter left for South Africa, where Louisa worked as a missionary in the Cape Colony for the next fifteen years. Here she married Robert Wodehouse, a native of South Africa. In 1895, Louisa’s failing health made it necessary for the family to return to America for her recuperation. By 1900, they were able to return and served at a missionary station at Umtali, in Southern Rhodesia. After ten years, ill health again forced Louisa to retire. She died on January 18, 1917 about fifty miles from the mission station. After her death, a fellow missionary wrote concerning the continued use of “’Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus”:
We miss her very much, but her influence goes on as our five thousand native Christians continually sing this hymn in their native tongue.
The composer of the music, William James Kirkpatrick, is a nineteenth century composer and publisher who did much to promote the cause of early gospel music. He spent his entire life in the Philadelphia area, where he served as music director in various churches in addition to managing a furniture business for a time, as well as composing and compiling a great deal of gospel music. Kirkpatrick is said to have compiled one hundred gospel song books. William composed this tune especially for Mrs. Stead’s text with the hymn first appearing, in 1882, in the collection, Songs of Triumph.
Taken from 101 More Hymn Stories Copyright © 1985, 2013 by Kenneth W. Osbeck. Published by Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
This book, written by Dolly Martin Monroe in 1997, chronicles the beginning of Houston's first Christian radio station. It contains barriers, obstacles, and financial difficulties through which the Lord navigated this ministry.
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