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Updated 05/31/2013

 

More Love to Thee, O Christ


Elizabeth Prentiss

Elizabeth Payson Prentiss (26 October 1818 -- 13 August 1878) was a Presbyterian pastor's wife, mother, and author, well known for her hymn "More Love to Thee, O Christ" and the didactic story Stepping Heavenward (1869). Some of her verses were recently compiled in a book published by Solid Ground Christian Books.
 

She was born and raised in Portland, Maine, the fifth of eight children (only six survived) of the eminent Congregationalist pastor Edward Payson. The influences of New England Christianity, consisting of the inherited Puritan foundation with added evangelistic, missional, and philanthropic elements, were evident in the Payson family.

From an early age Elizabeth exhibited sharp mental abilities, deep and indiscriminate sympathy, and an exceptional perceptiveness.  Combined, these traits made her an ideal author, not only of instructive children's books but also of characteristically warm and insightful letters to family and a wide circle of friends. As a young woman she published some of her children's stories and poems in "The Youth's Companion," a New England religious periodical.


W. Howard Doane

In 1838 she opened a small girls' school in her home and took up a Sabbath-school class as well. Two years later she left for Richmond, VA, to be a department head at a girls' boarding school.

In 1845 she married George Lewis Prentiss, a brother of her dear friend Anna Prentiss Stearns, to whom are addressed some of her warmest and most intimate letters. The Prentisses settled in New Bedford, MA, where George became pastor of South Trinitarian Church. After a happy time of transitioning into the duties of a pastor's wife and a housewife, within a period of three months she lost her second and third children--one as a newborn, one at age four.

After her death, Rev. Prentiss published The Life and Letters of Elizabeth Prentiss (1882), for the purpose of fulfilling his wife's wish that the more costly experiences of her life could be used for the consolation of others. Mrs. Prentiss's peculiar trials enabled her to sympathize even more deeply with those who suffered such that, later in life, she declared that she loved the house of mourning better than the house of feasting.

The tune was composed by W. Howard Doane. 
William Howard Doane (born in Preston, Connecticut on February 3, 1832; died in South Orange, New Jersey on December 23, 1915) was an industrialist who composed Christian hymn tunes. He held patents on wood-working machinery and in 1861 became President of J. A. Fay and Company. In religious work he headed the Ohio Baptist Convention Ministers Aid Society for the Midwest. In 1875 he received his doctorate in music from Dennison University.



 

Lyrics by Elizabeth Prentiss

 

More love to Thee, O Christ, more love to Thee!
Hear Thou the prayer I make on bended knee.
This is my earnest plea: More love, O Christ, to Thee;
More love to Thee, more love to Thee!

Once earthly joy I craved, sought peace and rest;
Now Thee alone I seek, give what is best.
This all my prayer shall be: More love, O Christ to Thee;
More love to Thee, more love to Thee!

Let sorrow do its work, come grief or pain;
Sweet are Thy messengers, sweet their refrain,
When they can sing with me: More love, O Christ, to Thee;
More love to Thee, more love to Thee!

Then shall my latest breath whisper Thy praise;
This be the parting cry my heart shall raise;
This still its prayer shall be: More love, O Christ to Thee;
More love to Thee, more love to Thee!