Posted by: rcottrill | January 16, 2010

Today in 1785 – Samuel Ecking Died

Today we’ll take a quick look at several songs by more obscure hymn writers.

Samuel Ecking was a Baptist believer born in 1757 at Shrewsbury, England. He contributed hymns to the Gospel Magazine, under the odd signature “S. E-k-g.” His hymn Peace, Troubled Soul is still found in some books.

Peace, troubled soul, thou need’st not fear;
Thy great Provider still is near;
Who fed thee last, will feed thee still:
Be calm, and sink into His will.

The Lord, who built the earth and sky,
In mercy stoops to hear thy cry;
His promise all may freely claim;
Ask and receive in Jesus’ Name.

To read about a notable historic occasion on which this hymn was used, see Today in 1865.

(2) Data Missing – Keep on Believing
Occasionally I want to include songs for which dates are lacking–or other information. For a time it seemed to me there was some confusion as to the authorship of the song Keep on Believing. A Salvation Army publication (Salvation Army Songs of Faith) credits the lyrics to Lucy Booth-Hellberg. But the only hymnal I have seen that includes it is Living Hymns, edited by Alfred Smith. He credits the words to “M.D.” and the tune to “L.M.B.”–noting also that he has edited the text and arranged to tune.

I contacted Smith’s son, but he could shed no more light on the origin of the hymn. However, a correspondent passed on the following information to me, which seems to clear up the mystery. “L.M.B” is Lucy Milward Booth (1868-1953), the daughter of William and Catherine Booth, who wrote the song when she was 17 (in 1885, before she married Mr. Hellberg). Though the message of the song was her own, she was assisted somewhat with the rhyming by “M.D.”–Mildred Duff–who later became a Commissioner in the Salvation Army.

I include a bit of the song here because it seems to fit the theme of Peace Troubled Soul above, and it is very honest about the struggles through which we sometimes go. At such times, our emotions may mislead us. God’s care doesn’t waver according to our feelings of the moment. “If our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things” (I Jn. 3:20).

When you feel weakest, dangers surround,
Subtle temptations, troubles abound;
Nothings seems hopeful, nothing seems glad,
All is despairing, often times sad.

Keep on believing, Jesus is near,
Keep on believing, there’s nothing to fear;
Keep on believing, this is the way,
Faith in the night as well as the day.

If all were easy, if all were bright,
Where would the cross be? and where the fight?
But in the testings God gives to you,
Chances for proving what He can do.

(3) Today in 1893 – Isaiah Baltzell Died
Isaiah Baltzell was born near Frederick City, Maryland, in 1832. He published a number of books of sacred song, and wrote some himself, sometimes contributing the music, other times authoring both words and music. He was partnered, in this endeavour, with editor and song writer Edmund Lorenz. Of interest is his song The Missionary’s Farewell, to be sung on the occasion indicated by the title.

The second-to-last line of the lyric suggests that the song may have been first applied to a missionary heading to Africa. However, with a bit of creative adjustment, the name of another country could be substituted.

Far away, beyond the sea,
Where the fields are bright and fair,
There’s a call, a plaintive plea;
I must hasten to be there.

Let me go, I cannot stay,
’Tis the Master calling me;
Let me go, I must obey;
Native land, farewell to thee.

Hark! I hear the Master say,
“Up, ye reapers! why so slow?”
To the vineyard far away,
Earthly kindred, let me go.

Bear me on, thou restless sea,
Let the winds the canvas swell;
Afric’s shore I long to see,
Native land, farewell, farewell.

4) Today in 1940 – William Hewlett Died
W illiam Henry Hewlett was a composer, organist, and choral conductor, who has a number of connections with my own family. For many years, he was the organist of the Centenary United Church, in Hamilton, Ontario, where I was born. Each Saturday afternoon, for twenty-five years, he gave a recital on the church’s great Casavant pipe organ. I heard my parents speak of him, and believe they attended some of those concerts.

Mr Hewlett was also one of the founders of the Mendelssohn Oratorio Choir, in Toronto, and was its first accompanist. He was on the editorial committee of The Hymnary, the hymn book of the United Church of Canada, produced in 1930. Check out his tune Somerset, for John Newton’s hymn, Dear Shepherd of Thy People, Hear.

Dear Shepherd of Thy people, hear;
Thy presence now display;
As Thou hast given a place for prayer,
So give us hearts to pray.

William Hewlett died six months before I was born, and is buried in Hamilton, in the same cemetery as my father and mother.


  1. […] in 1865 – Peace, Troubled Soul sung This hymn, written by Samuel Ecking, was performed by a 250 member choir on this date at the State House in Springfield, Illinois. The […]

  2. […] This is one of my personal favourites. It is an encouraging hymn amidst trying times. Some more information about this hymn over here. […]

  3. Regarding the song ‘Keep on Believing’ is in an extremely old blue hardback Salvation Army music book well before ‘Songs of Faith’ was published called ‘Revival songs’ which I have in front of me. It states the following:- Words by Commissioner M. Duff, and Music by Commissioner Mrs Booth- Hellberg. I would just like to say that your comments stated above mine, are very interesting.

    • Thanks for adding your thoughts. Seems as though we’ve got the origins of the text and tune pretty clear now. It’s a fine song and worth tracking down and using.

  4. Further to my comments made (anon on October 16 2011 at 9:20 am), I hope the following is of some use to you:- a) Open a Google page and type the following: Ian’s Regal Zonophone Keep On Believing then b) while listening to a Salvation Army Band March (The Flag of Freedom), go half-way down the page and in front of a list of titles, you will see ‘RECORD LABEL’. Click on the record label blue icon where it reads Keep on Believing. You will see what record label was originally used on an old 78rpm record. c) click off that label, go back to the main page and near the top highlighted in blue, you will find a list of titles. d) Scroll down until you find Keep on Believing and left click on the mouse to play this song. e) When you have finished listening, go to FILE then SEND page to Desktop. You will now be able to listen free of charge to thousands of songs and without any worry of any viruses.


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