Keeping the Hymns Close By

Have Thine Own Way, Lord!

Author – Adelaide A. Pollard, 1862 – 1934
Composer – George C. Stebbins, 1846 – 1945

Written in 1902

…like the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand… Jeremiah 18:6 (NASB)

“It really doesn’t matter what you do with us, Lord –just have your way with our lives…”

This simple expression, prayed by an elderly woman at a prayer meeting one night, was the source of inspiration that prompted the writing of this hymn in 1902. The author of this hymn text, Adelaide Pollard was born in Iowa during the Civil War. She was named Sarah, by her parents, but because of her dislike for this name, she adopted the name, Adelaide. In the 1880’s she taught in several girls’ schools in Chicago.

Later, Adelaide was involved in some evangelistic ministries and then felt God was calling her to Africa as a missionary. But, to her intense disappointment, she was unable to raise her financial support. Heartsick, Adelaide, in her forties at the time, attended a prayer meeting and was greatly impressed with the prayer of an elderly woman, who omitted the usual requests for blessings and things, and simply petitioned God for an understanding of His will in life. Upon returning home that evening, Miss Pollard read again the story of the potter and the clay in Jeremiah 18.  By bedtime she had written all four stanzas of this hymn as it is sung today.

Adelaide did eventually make it to Africa for a short time, but the outbreak of World War I sent her to Scotland. Following the war, she returned to America and continued to minister throughout New England. Miss Pollard wrote a number of hymn texts throughout her life, although no one knows how many, since she never wanted any recognition for her accomplishments. “Have Thine Own Way, Lord!” is her only hymn still in use today. Adelaide died in December 1934 at the age of 72. She was heading to Pennsylvania for a speaking engagement. While waiting for the train, she was stricken with a seizure and shortly thereafter died.

The music for this text was supplied by George Coles Stebbins. The hymn first appeared in 1907 in Stebbins’ collection, Northfield Hymnal with Alexander’s Supplement.

In 1876, George Stebbins was invited by D.L. Moody to join him in his evangelistic endeavors. For the next twenty-five years, Stebbins was associated with Moody and Ira Sankey and other leading evangelists as choir director, composer, and compiler of many gospel song collections. He has supplied the music for other gospel hymns including “Saved by Grace”, “Ye Must Be Born Again”, “Jesus I Come,” and “Take Time to be Holy.” George C. Stebbins lived a fruitful life for God to the age of ninety-one, passing away on October 6, 1945.

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.
Taken from Then Sings My Soul Keepsake Edition  by Robert J. Morgan Copyright © 2011 Robert J. Morgan. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson
Adelaide Pollard

Adelaide Pollard

George Stebbins

George Stebbins