My King and His Service by Frances R. Havergal

My King (or Daily Thoughts for the King’s Children)

Royal Commandments (or Royal Thoughts for the King’s Servants)

The Royal Bounty (or Evening Thoughts for the King’s Guests)

The Royal Invitation (or Daily Thoughts of Coming to Christ)

Loyal Responses (or Daily Melodies for The King’s Minstrels)

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
OF
FRANCES RIDLEY HAVERGAL.

A GENTLE SPIRIT, a temperament alive to all innocent joys, to all the harmonies of life and literature, a deep and earnest faith, a loving self-surrender to the Saviour who was the object of that faith—these are the qualities which make Frances Ridley Havergal a character of exceptional interest, not only to professing Christians, but to all who recognize and revere the spirit of the Gospel teachings. For having the gift of expression—a simple and pellucid style through which the soul poured itself out in either prose or verse—the qualities which endeared her to the friends who knew her in person won her a world-wide circle of friends among those who only knew her through her published writings.
Miss Havergal was born December 14th, 1836, and died June 3d, 1879. She was the daughter of Rev. William Henry Havergal, famous as a writer of sacred music. The story of her life, as revealed
(ill)
to us in the ‘*Memorials” edited by her sister in 1880 seems uneventful enough in incident. Its landmarks are two heavy bereavements, and the changes in outward circumstances ensuing therefrom. One might think that the first of these epoch-marking bereavements was the death of her mother, which occurred in 1848. Yet Frances herself confesses that this event *’ did not make at first the impression upon me which might have been expected.” We must not take her too literally, however. It is undoubtedly from this period that we may roughly date the kindling of that intense religious enthusiasm which burns in all her life and poetry, and which remained unquenched to the last. At the same time, the first poignant and crushing grief that she experienced was the sudden death of her father at Easter, 1870. His widow (for he had married a second time) continued to live at Leamington with the daughters; and the main support of the family devolved upon Frances, who had already won wide fame as a hymn-writer. In 1878 the death of Mrs. Havergal broke up the little circle, and Frances, with her sister Maria, afterwards her biographer, removed from Leamington into Wales, but she outlived her beloved second mother only a little over a year.
This life—tranquil as it seems on the surface— was disturbed in its inner depths by many conflicting currents of religious feeling. ”I am quite sure,” she tells us in her Autobiography, **that nothing in the way of earthly and external trials could have been to me what the inner darkness and strife and utter weariness of spirit, through the
greater part of these years, have been. Many have thought mine a comparatively thornless path; but often when the path was smoothest, there were hidden thorns within, and wounds bleeding and rankling. ” Evidently she had, in a less morbid degree, that extreme sensitiveness of conscience which drove Cowper mad. Through a life of the utmost purity and even sanctity, a life devoted to good works, to philanthropical endeavors of all sorts, she was disturbed by the sense of continual back-slid-ings. “1 remember,” she tells us again, “1 remember longing to be able to say *0 God, my heart is fixed ‘ in bitter mourning over its weakness and wavering.”
It is pleasant to know that these dark shadows were eventually lifted. In her maturer years the early disquiet was succeeded by a calm trust and confidence, thus faithfully mirrored in the prelude to “Under His Shadow.”
So now, T pray Thee, keep my hand in Thine And guide it as Thou wilt. I do not ask
To understand the “wherefore ” of each line : Mine is the sweeter, easier, happier task
Just to look up to Thee for every word,
Rest in thy love and trust and know that I am heard.
Miss Havergal’s verses were collected and reissued in two volumes in 1884. But hitherto her prose writings have been strangely neglected by publishers.
In these prose writings, even more than in her poems, Miss Havergal has shown us her best and truest self. Simple and direct as they are in method, they go straight from the heart to the heart. The author’s tenderness, reverence and humility, her
ardent love for her Lord and for her neighbor are all reflected in her prose. Independently of their religious value, these writings have a distinct literary interest as revealing the inner workings of a unique and winning personality. It is no wonder that in this country alone they have sold to the extent of some half a million copies.
It may be added that the little volume of Poems entitled ”Loyal Responses” has been included among the prose works because it was expressly prepared as part of the ”royal” series of which “My King” was the initial volume. As the earlier books called attention to the utterances from the Throne, so the later one embodies the responses of its loyal subjects, and forms an integral portion of the scheme.

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