Frances Ridley Havergal is known throughout the Christian world as a writer of hymns and books that have been sung and read by millions. A popular English journal recently asked its readers to name the best woman of the century. Frances Ridley Havergal and Queen Victoria were named among the seven who received the highest number of votes.
She was the daughter of a well-known Episcopal clergyman, and was born at Astley, England, December 14, 1836. As a child she gave evidence of her poetic and literary gifts. The present volume, Kept for the Master’s Use, is her last book, and was published after her decease. It consists of separate chapters on each couplet of her well-known consecration hymn. Regarding the origin of this hymn she once wrote in a letter to a friend:
“I went for a little visit of five days. There were ten persons in the house, some unconverted and long prayed for, some converted but not rejoicing Christians. He gave me the prayer: Lord, give me all in this house. And He just did! Before I left the house everyone had got a blessing The last night of my visit I was too happy to sleep, and passed most of the night in renewal of my consecration, and these little couplets formed themselves and chimed in my heart one after another, until they finished with:
“Take myself, and I will be,
Ever, only, all for Thee.”
The diary of her faithful sister, Marie, gives an account of her last sickness (peritonitis) and departure. Her peace and joy shone through all her suffering, while her patience and unselfish consideration for others were most striking. “June 3rd There came a terrible rush of convulsive sickness. When it ceased, the nurse gently assisting her, she nestled down in the pillows, folded her hands on her breast, saying: ‘There, now it’s all over! Blessed rest!’ And now she looked up steadfastly as if she saw the Lord, and surely nothing less heavenly could hive reflected such a glorious radiance upon her face! For ten minutes we watched that almost visible meeting with her King, and her countenance was so glad, as if she were already talking to Him. Then she tried to sing, but after one sweet high note HE—her voice failed, and as her brother commended her soul into her Redeemer’s hand she passed away. Our precious sister was gone,—satisfied,—glorified,—within the palace of her King!”