Anne Steele (1716-1778)

“Anne was the daugh­ter of William Steele, a tim­ber mer­chant who was al­so a lay preach­er at the Bap­tist church in Broughton [England]. She lost her mo­ther at age 3. At age 19, a se­vere hip in­jury made her a life­long in­val­id. At age 21, her fi­an­cé drowned the day be­fore they were to be mar­ried. From this ser­ies of tra­ge­dies rose 144 hymns and 34 ver­si­fied Psalms, which were enor­mous­ly pop­u­lar. Her main work was Po­ems on Sub­jects Chief­ly De­vo­tion­al (1760). When Trin­i­ty Church in Bos­ton, Mass­a­chu­setts (where Phil­lips Brooks la­ter be­came rec­tor) pub­lished its hym­nal in 1808, 59 of its 144 hymns were from the pen of Anne Steele. She pre­ferred to re­main anon­y­mous, though, writ­ing under a pen name. Her tomb­stone car­ried the follow­ing words:

Silent the lyre, and dumb the tuneful tongue,
That sung on earth her great Redeemer’s praise;
But now in Heaven she joins the angelic song,
In more harmonious, more exalted lays.”

(From cyberhymnal.org)

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