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Updated 06/04/2013

 

'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus

Louisa M. R. Stead (1850-1917) wrote the words to “Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus” in 1882.  These words are said to have written been after Stead witnessed her husband drown.  As a teen­ager, Stead felt called to be a mis­sion­ary. She went to Amer­i­ca around age 21, and lived for a while in Cin­cin­na­ti, Ohio. At­tend­ing a camp meet­ing in Ur­bana, Ohio, she felt the mis­sion­ary call­ing even more strong­ly, but was un­a­ble to go to Chi­na as she want­ed due to her frail health. She mar­ried a Mr. Stead in 1875. Tra­gic­al­ly, her hus­band died off Long Is­land, New York while try­ing to res­cue a drowning boy.  

Around 1880, Stead went to South Af­ri­ca, and served as a mis­sion­ary some 15 years. She re­mar­ried, to Rob­ert Wode­house of that count­ry. She re­turned to Amer­i­ca in 1895 to re­cov­er her health, but once again went into mis­sions in Rho­de­sia in 1901. Her daugh­ter Li­ly (who sur­vived the ac­ci­dent that killed her fa­ther) mar­ried D. A. Car­son and be­came a mis­sion­ary like her mo­ther.

The music was composed by William James Kirkpatrick (1838-1921).  Son of a school teach­er and mu­si­cian, Kirk­pat­rick grew up in a mu­sic­al at­mo­sphere. In 1854, he went to Phil­a­del­phia, Penn­syl­van­ia, to stu­dy mu­sic and learn a trade; he spent over three years as a car­pen­ter. But he was more in­ter­est­ed in mu­sic than me­chan­ics, de­vot­ing all his lei­sure time to its stu­dy. His am­bi­tion at the time was to be­come a vi­o­lin­ist.


William Kirkpatrick

In 1855, Kirkpatrick joined the Whar­ton Street Meth­od­ist Epis­co­pal Church in Phil­a­del­phia, and from then on de­vot­ed him­self most­ly to sac­red mu­sic, giv­ing his serv­ices to the choir and Sun­day school. As there were few church or­gans in that day, his vi­o­lin and cel­lo were in con­stant de­mand for choir re­hears­als, sing­ing so­ci­e­ties, and church pro­grams. Dur­ing this time he wrote a num­ber of un­pub­lished hymn tunes and an­thems.

Kirkpatrick stu­died vo­cal mu­sic un­der Pro­fess­or T. Bi­shop, then a lead­ing ora­tor­io and bal­lad sing­er. He be­came a mem­ber of the Har­mon­ia and Han­del and Hay­dn Sac­red Mu­sic So­ci­e­ties, where he heard the great­est sing­ers of the day and be­came fa­mil­iar with the prin­ci­pal chor­al works of the great com­pos­ers. Kirk­pat­rick’s first pub­lished com­po­si­tion was When the Spark of Life Is Wan­ing, which ap­peared around 1858 in the Mu­sic­al Pi­o­neer in New York. He went on to pub­lish about 50 hymn col­lect­ions, ma­ny in col­lab­o­ra­tion with John Swe­ney.


Lyrics by Louisa Stead

 

’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
And to take Him at His Word;
Just to rest upon His promise,
And to know, “Thus says the Lord!”

Refrain
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
O for grace to trust Him more!

O how sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to trust His cleansing blood;
And in simple faith to plunge me
’Neath the healing, cleansing flood!

Refrain

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.

Refrain

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.

Refrain