Confession: I am a bathroom reader. It’s a combination of my love for reading, my desire to redeem all the little minutes :), and the discovery I made as a young mother that the bathroom can be a RETREAT! I rotate books in the bathrooms. As I finish one, another takes its place, but one book has taken up almost permanent status. It’s the One Year Book of Hymns, which features hymn lyrics each day and either the background story of the hymn or a devotional based on it. It’s a great book that I read just about every day (at the bottom of this post you’ll find two links: the FB link is to a page that posts the lyrics/devotional each day as well as a performance of the hymn; and the Amazon link is just in case you want to buy it!).
Every once in a while, I get intrigued enough by the background that goes with the hymn that I do more research on it, and the story usually ends up on my blog. If I begin blogging more regularly–one of my goals–this might become a weekly feature. Today’s story is about Louisa Stead and her hymn, “‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus.”
Born around 1850 in England, Louisa moved to the United States when she was 21. She attended a revival meeting and felt the Lord was calling her to mission work, but her health kept her from China, where she wanted to go. She married, and a year later the couple had a daughter, Lily. When Lily was four years old, the family went to the seashore for the day. As they picnicked on the beach, they heard a young boy calling for help out in the water. Louisa’s husband swam out to help, but the boy pulled him under and Mr. Stead drowned (some accounts say the boy died as well).
Louisa was left not just as a grieving widow, but as a poor mother with no family in the States to lean on. One morning, with no money left and no food in the house, she opened her front door and found both food and money on the doorstep. That day she wrote the words to “‘Tis so Sweet to Trust in Jesus.”
- ’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His Word;
Just to rest upon His promise,
And to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er;
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
Oh, for grace to trust Him more!
- Oh, how sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to trust His cleansing blood;
And in simple faith to plunge me
’Neath the healing, cleansing flood!
- Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just from sin and self to cease;
Just from Jesus simply taking
Life and rest, and joy and peace.
- I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee,
Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;
And I know that Thou art with me,
Wilt be with me to the end.
Louisa’s trust in Jesus continued to grow. With her health improved, she moved with Lily to South Africa, where she served as a missionary and met and married Robert Wodehouse. When Louisa had more health problems, they returned to the States for some years, during which Wodehouse pastored a church. When Louisa was better, they went to Rhodesia, where they served until 1911, when Louisa’s health forced her to retire from active work. She lived in Rhodesia until her death in 1917. Her fellow missionaries wrote this about her:
We miss her very much, but her influence goes on as our five thousand native Christians continually sing this hymn in their native language.
She trusted Jesus’ promises “to the end,” and she passed on this faith to her daughter, Lily Stead Carson, who, with her husband, also served as a missionary in Rhodesia.