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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
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.
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time he wrote a number of unpublished hymn tunes and anthems.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!”
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!
Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in
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
Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;
And I know that Thou art with me,
Wilt be with me to the end.