(from Philippians 2:6–11)
In the fullness of time Christ came empty prince?
built a tower of mustard seeds reigned
with a towel
And in time’s void He came brimming baskets
of bread for the hollow
blood for the penniless and
a tree to plant again

In 1873, when the sport of mountain climbing was still in its infancy, an enterprising young Englishwoman climbed most of the way to the summit of Europe’s highest mountain, Mont Blanc, to the place known as Les Grands Mulets. Her guide urged her to go on, as it seemed to him that she could easily attain the summit and incidentally become the first woman to do so. She demurred, stating that she had already accomplished what she intended, and that to go on would be nothing but vanity. That woman was Frances Ridley Havergal (b. 1836), one of the most gifted hymn writers in the English language. Her death occurred two days after Pentecost exactly a century ago, on June 3, 1879.

Those who know and love Frances Havergal’s hymns may not be surprised at the description given by one of her publishers: “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 Savior.” Lines such as these: “Take my life, and let it be, …” and, “Golden harps are sounding, Angel voices ring, …” seem to speak of a submissive, contemplative nature. The rather more robust, “Like a river glorious,” and the stirring, “Who is on the Lord’s side?” bespeak a vigor that is acquainted with hard work and earnest struggle as well as with “all innocent joys.” And indeed, as Frances Havergal’s letters and personal accounts of her mountaineering in Britain and on the Continent show, she was indeed gentle—but certainly ...

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