[Today’s post is by John H. Parker, co-author of the newly released book, Abide With Me, published by New Leaf Press. This account is from the travels of John and his co-author/photographer, Paul Seawright.]

Most of the classic hymns were written by men, usually Anglican or Dissenter preachers. Of the relatively few women, some leaned toward the independent side.

Frances Havergal, composer of “I Gave My Life for Thee” and “Take My Life and Let it Be,” was consistently devout, and she just as consistently dismissed anything that would interfere with her Bible study, evangelism, and hymn writing. An attractive woman from a well-to-do family, she received several offers of marriage, but she declined them all in order to keep herself undistracted from her church work. Evidently she excluded domestic distractions, as well. An anonymous booklet about her found in the public library of her home town of Stourport, possibly written by her sister, reads “She probably never did a household chore in her life, and took no apparent interest in anything that was going on in the world apart from saving souls for Christ.”

Sarah Flower Adams, writer of “Nearer, My God, to Thee” was the daughter of a liberal newspaper editor, a romantic poet, a beautiful woman, an actress, and a very independent lady. She was involved in political and social issues and belonged to William Johnson Fox’s Unitarian South Place Chapel in Finsbury Circus, London. She was married to William Bridges Adams, but their agreement was that she would not do housework.

How this mindset of these two ladies affected the content of their hymns might be worthy of study.