Posts Tagged ‘frances ridley havergal’

“Broken Purposes but Answered Prayers”

April 17, 2016

April 2016 Android 2552.jpg

I discovered this old book quite by accident one morning this week. Written by an English lady with the unusual name of “Anna Boobbyer,” I feel that I am going to find a wealth of spiritual treasure in this antiquarian volume with its old cloth cover! Under the title on the cover of the book are these words:

“Make use of me, my God.

Let me not be forgot,

A broken vessel cast aside

One whom thou needest not.”

The words somehow struck a chord with me. How easy it is to feel discouraged when you are weary and perhaps not feeling as optimistic about life as you once did. Ill health (or even just the aging process!) certainly has the potential to take its toll on your enthusiasm and then when this old life throws other problematic issues your way for good measure, well…

However, my eyes scanned the title page of the book. This book was in its third edition, with over 31,000 copies having been produced! On the very first page of chapter one, I read these words by the author… “I was only two-and-twenty, and in buoyant health and spirits, when in one short day, from mountain climbing, my bodily sufferings began; and my hopes, desires, and prayers for an active life in the Master’s service were utterly crushed, and “all my purposes were broken off,” like poor Job, when those sad words were wrung from his aching heart.” She has written… “it is forty years today (1893) since I became an invalid – for life, unless my heavenly Father should interpose, and heal me in my old age, as I am now sixty-three.”

Yet, as my eyes skim this book by a lady who was “confined to two rooms,” I see a wealth of experiences which, when shared, have the potential to touch hearts and be mightily used of the Lord. I began to think of some hymn writers who also suffered from ill health or were incapacitated in some way. Frances Ridley Havergal suffered much in her short life, surviving almost fatal typhoid in 1874. She said: “Pain as to God’s own children, is truly and really only blessing in disguise. It is but His chiselling, one of His engraving tools.” Frances trusted the Lord to save her at age fourteen and some years later, in 1873, declared: “I was shown that ‘the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin,’ and then it was made plain to me that he who cleansed me had power to keep me clean; so I just utterly yielded myself to Him and utterly trusted Him to keep me.” Despite the brevity of her life (for she died at forty-three) her numerous hymns, inspired by the Holy Spirit, continue to speak on to souls over a century later.

Another hymn writer (Fanny Crosby) was blind for her entire life, from the time that she was only six weeks old. She said: “It may have been a blunder on the physician’s part, but it was no mistake of God’s. I verily believe that it was God’s intention that I should live my days in physical darkness, so as to be better prepared to sing his praise.” For me her beautiful hymns had almost a heavenly perspective. Perhaps, because she had never been able to see the vain things of this life, her spiritual sight was intensified…

“Safe in the arms of Jesus,

Safe on His gentle breast,

There by His love o’ershadowed,

Sweetly my soul shall rest.

Hark, ‘tis the voice of angels,

Borne in a song to me,

Over the fields of glory,

Over the jasper sea.”

Prolific hymn writers and those in other areas of the Lord’s service have very often been subjected to what the rest of the world only sees as ‘terrible misfortune.’ Yet the ‘broken vessel’ is the one which the Master will use for His glory. I am sure there were times when Anna Boobbyer, Frances Ridley Havergal and Fanny Crosby shed silent tears but praise God He has “wiped away all tears from their eyes.”

What an encouragement to know that today the Lord can use the broken vessel mightily; our tears, born of dark experiences and recorded in poignant words, can live on for years to come; to encourage, convict and warm the hearts of other needy souls, perhaps long after we have departed this scene of time and “‘till He come.”


“Little Pillows” by Frances Ridley Havergal (1891)

February 19, 2014


Very often people have house clearances when someone in their family dies and invariably many books of interest are deposited with charity shops. The latter can certainly be a good source for out of print and very old or rare Christian books! It is also true to say that many people may recognise the value in an antique but are simultaneously blind to its riches in the spiritual realm.

 Just recently my daughter picked up a copy of a tiny (approximately 4.5 inches by 3 inches) antique book, “Little Pillows” by Frances Ridley Havergal from a charity shop. This little book was clearly meant for children but the beautiful simplicity in the way in which it was written has been a great comfort to me in recent days… or should I say nights. I have read a little chapter every night before going to sleep, which is clearly what the book was intended for, as it is described by the author as “A Book of Good-Night Thoughts.”

Frances Ridley Havergal (1836-1879), although her life was short, was a prolific writer. An English poet and hymn writer, she also wrote melodies, tracts and works for children. It is wonderful to think that this writer’s works are still touching and comforting souls in today’s world, although she has been with the Lord for 135 years now. It is somehow irrelevant to me that “Little Pillows” was written for children, for it has touched me with the love that inspired it to be written – more than any great work of theology.

In the first chapter an explanation is given on how the little book came to be written. An aunt, on saying goodnight to her little niece, asks her: “Now shall I give you a little pillow?” On hearing this, the little girl responds that she has one and then in the author’s words…

“Then I told her that, just as we wanted a nice soft pillow to lay our heads down at night, our hearts wanted a pillow too, something to rest upon, some true, sweet word that we might go to sleep upon happily and peacefully. And that it was a good plan always to take a little text for our pillow every night…”

As a child when I had difficulty sleeping, my mother always said to me: “Think about all the nice things.” She too loves the words from Philippians 4v8…

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

What better way to go to sleep, than with lovely, pure thoughts based upon the Word of God?

The following are two links to “Little Pillows, A Book of Good-Night Thoughts” by Frances Ridley Havergal (1891)…



Take My Life and Let it be… Ever Only All for Thee

June 7, 2012

At this time of year many primary and secondary school students around Ireland and in other parts of the world are about to sit examinations of one kind or another, while others in third level education have just received, or are about to receive, their degree results.

This week we received the wonderful news of my daughter’s first class honours degree results and also the fact that she came first in a class of nearly 40 students. She was naturally overcome with emotion at the results, as I was too. I remembered, with tears in my eyes all those missed days at school when she suffered from arthritis as a child; the nights of pain and the weary mornings when she could hardly walk and I thank the Lord for her present health and abilities.

In recent days for some reason the tune of the hymn “Take my Life” by Frances Ridley Havergal (1836-1879) has been going through my head and I began to read some of the background information on this lady. Perhaps I have been thinking about Frances because of her educational abilities as a child: she could read at two, read the Bible at four and started to write poetry at seven. By the age of twenty she had memorised the four Gospels, all the Epistles, Revelation, the Psalms and the Book of Isaiah. But most importantly, Frances gave her heart to the Lord just after her fourteenth birthday. In her own words… “I did trust the Lord Jesus.”

Then in 1873, a year of great spiritual blessing in her life, Frances consecrated that life to the Lord. In her own words… “I was shown that the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin… it was made plain to me that He who had cleansed me had power to keep me clean; so I just utterly yielded myself to Him and entirely trusted Him to keep me.”

A good education or a special talent in the sphere of music or the arts is something to be thankful for – but all the education and talents in the world without the guiding force of the Lord Jesus Christ in our lives is worse than useless, because education in itself can produce proud people who are full of their own philosophies, making it more difficult for them to hear the Lord’s convicting voice.

Today Frances Ridley Havergal’s hymns live on to inspire and convict thousands of souls across the world, all because she gave every aspect of her life to be used for the glory of her Risen Saviour, in the knowledge that He could keep her clean.

June 3rd last saw the anniversary of Frances Ridley Havergal’s death. In her own words she took…

“The one grand step, beyond the stars to God

Into the splendour, shadowless and broad,

Into the everlasting joy and light.”


My prayer is that young people everywhere, whatever their abilities, would find Frances’ loving Saviour who desires to use their lives for His glory, that their moments and their days… would “flow in ceaseless praise!”

Take my life, and let it be

Consecrated, Lord, to Thee;

Take my moments and my days,

Let them flow in ceaseless praise.


Take my hands, and let them move

At the impulse of thy love;

Take my feet, and let them be

Swift and beautiful for Thee.


Take my voice, and let me sing

Always, only, for my King;

Take my lips, and let them be

Filled with messages from Thee.


Take my silver and my gold –

Not a mite would I withhold;

Take my intellect and use

Ev’ry power as thou shalt choose.


Take my will, and make it Thine –

It shall be no longer mine:

Take my heart – it is Thine own;

It shall be Thy royal throne.


Take my love; my Lord, I pour

At thy feet its treasure-store;

Take myself, and I will be

Ever, only ALL for Thee.

(Frances Ridley Havergal 4th February, 1874)


Have you had a Visit from the Jehovah’s Witnesses Recently?

November 5, 2011

If we, as Christians, sometimes get discouraged, how much more so must those who neither believe in (nor are led by) the Holy Spirit? They work hard, going from door to door with absolutely no reassuring presence of the ‘Comforter.’ (John 14v16-18) Given this sad fact, I have often thought that ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses,’ in general, are very diligent in their outreach; if only Christians were this diligent! They systematically cover every square metre of our little island, visiting the remotest of dwelling places. I am certain that this is so in every other country of the world where they have a presence. I remember years ago being at an evangelical church in Athens, close to where St. Paul preached on Mars’ Hill (Acts 17v22). A man stood up in the middle of the meeting and started shouting and waving his hands. The Greek people who sat beside us explained that this person was a ‘Jehovah’s Witness’ who was disputing what the preacher was saying. From research I have discovered that unfortunately most countries in the world now have a ‘Jehovah’s Witness’ presence.

Once, when I was visiting a remote rural area of County Waterford, I gave an elderly lady (who lived alone) a tract. “Are you a ‘Jehovah’s Witness’?” she asked. How disappointing to discover that ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses’ had been in this isolated location, but this lady had never in her life been spoken to by an evangelical Christian!

“It’s not a good idea to go out ‘two-by-two.’ They’ll think we’re Jehovah’s Witnesses,” I heard someone once say. But why should we, as Christians, decide not to do something – just because a certain well-known cult does it? Anyway, we should be guided and influenced by God’s Word and led of the Holy Spirit for it is He who speaks to souls, to guide them into all truth. It is He, also, who prepares the hearts of the individuals He wants us to speak to.  (Proverbs 16v1)

“Not interested. I have my own religion (or church),” is the response of many people to Jehovah’s Witnesses at the door. But the Christian should have a very different attitude. Essentially we need to know the scriptures, never forgetting to put the emphasis on Jesus and His finished work on the cross at Calvary. At some time, many of the people within this and other cults have sincerely reached out for truth – but in doing so they have embraced error. These individuals, like those in other cults, need a loving witness. To slam the door or to be coldly hostile or impatient is not a Christ-like reaction. Be led of the Holy Spirit, and love the person – but not his erroneous beliefs.

I thank my Lord for leading me into the marvellous light of His truth and I pray that, in His strength, I can reach out to those who have been deceived. That glow of His presence makes it all worthwhile, and I can face the burdensome tasks of the day, in the knowledge that, insignificant as I am, He can use me to reach the souls for whom He died, rose – and lives to save. Oh that many would turn from error, seek His face and find the real Jehovah; He who encompasses Father, Son and Holy Spirit. (1John 5v7&8)

How lovely are those words which refer to Jehovah in Isaiah 26v3&4… “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the Lord forever: for in the Lord JEHOVAH is everlasting strength.”

Frances Ridley Havergal, devotional writer, poetess and hymn writer certainly found that “perfect peace,” when at the age of fourteen she trusted the Lord Jesus to save her. Miss Havergal was plagued with ill health during her short life but she was greatly used of the Lord, because she had later consecrated that life to Him. I love her hymn “Like a River Glorious,” which declares the all-sufficiency of “Jehovah” and the perfect peace and blessing that is to be found when we “trust Him wholly.” What a beautiful analogy: the sparkling peaceful river, flowing deeper and deeper as it makes its way to the sea!

Link to this hymn: