Mary Bridges Canedy Slade was a pastor’s wife who lived out her whole life in Fall River, Massachusetts, the town made famous by the 1892 Lizzie Borden murder case. Mrs. Slade had died ten years before this, but could well have known the Bordens, since the town was not that large. She was a teacher and a writer, an assistant editor of The New England Journal of Education. Mary Slade wrote a number of gospel songs, and several of them are still found in some books.
Tell It Again is based on a true incident. Years ago, a missionary visited a dying boy in a tent in a gypsy encampment, in England. Bending over him, he recited the words of John 3:16, “God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” The dying boy listened, and faintly whispered, “Nobody ever told me.”
We do not know all the circumstances of course. But what a tragedy–that there are still some who have never heard the gospel of grace. Paul asks pointedly, “How shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?” (Rom. 10:14). Mary Slade’s hymn says:
Into the tent where a gypsy boy lay,
Dying alone at the close of the day,
News of salvation we carried; said he:
“Nobody ever has told it to me!”
Tell it again! Tell it again!
Salvation’s story repeat o’er and o’er.
Till none can say of the children of men,
“Nobody ever has told me before.”
“Did He so love me, a poor little boy?
Send unto me the good tidings of joy?
Need I not perish? My hand will He hold?
Nobody ever the story has told!”
Mary Slade also gave us Who at My Door Is Standing? (based on Rev. 3:20), and Footsteps of Jesus. In the latter, “We will follow the steps of Jesus” is the commitment required of disciples of Christ. Appropriately, some form of the word “follow” is found 88 times in the Gospels, in our English Bibles. It begins with Christ’s command, “Follow Me” (Matt. 4:19), and ends with the Lord’s rebuke of Peter when he became curious about the future of John.
Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come [i.e. until My second coming], what is that to you? You follow Me.” (Jn. 21:21-22)
Following the Lord, step by step, presents an image of both faith and obedience. It also reminds us that, just as physical walking involves taking one step at a time, so it is with living for Christ and serving Him.
Sweetly, Lord, have we heard Thee calling,
Come, follow Me!
And we see where Thy footprints falling
Lead us to Thee.
Footprints of Jesus,
That make the pathway glow;
We will follow the steps of Jesus
Where’er they go.
(2) Today in 1877 – George Robinson Died
George Wade Robinson was born in Ireland. He became a Congregational pastor, and also produced a couple of books of poetry. He is known in hymn history for one hymn in particular, I Am His and He Is Mine (or Loved with Everlasting Love), published in 1876. The second stanza speaks of the new perspective on all aspects of life the believer has. Missionary to India, Henry Martyn (1781-1812) put it this way:
Since I have known God in a saving manner, painting, poetry and music have had charms unknown to me before, for religion has refined my mind and made it susceptible of impressions from the sublime and beautiful.
Loved with everlasting love, led by grace that love to know;
Gracious Spirit from above, Thou hast taught me it is so!
O this full and perfect peace! O this transport all divine!
In a love which cannot cease, I am His, and He is mine.
Heav’n above is softer blue, earth around is sweeter green!
Something lives in every hue Christless eyes have never seen;
Birds with gladder songs o’erflow, flowers with deeper beauties shine,
Since I know, as now I know, I am His, and He is mine.
(3) Today in 1917 – Louisa Stead Died
It was a sunny day in the early 1880’s. Louisa M. R. Stead, her husband, and their four-year-old daughter Lily, were enjoying a day at the beach on Long Island Sound. Suddenly, in the middle of their picnic lunch, they heard cries for help coming from the sparkling sea. Quickly, Mr. Stead plunged into the water to rescue a frantically struggling boy. But as sometimes happens, when he reached the boy, the terrified child pulled his rescuer under. Both of them were drowned, as Louisa and Lily looked on helplessly.
For Louisa Stead (1850-1917) the tragedy raised serious questions. Why had God taken her husband, a man so committed to serving Christ? Why had she been left alone, with a young daughter to raise? There were no specific answers–as many times there are not. But the Lord seemed to say, “Trust Me. Trust Me, even if there seems to be no logical explanation. Trust Me even if I choose not to explain.” And Louisa did. She opened the Word of God, claimed His promises, and rested in His infinite wisdom and love.
It was a time of great spiritual growth for her. She learned the truth of God’s promise, “You [Lord] will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You” (Isa. 26:3). With the peace of God flooding her soul, Louisa Stead composed the words of a simple hymn. ‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus is the only song she has given us.
’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
And to take Him at His Word;
Just to rest upon His promise,
And to know, “Thus says the Lord!”
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
O for grace to trust Him more!
After she lost her husband, Mrs. Stead went with her daughter to South Africa, and later to Southern Rhodesia, serving there for 25 years as a missionary. In the words of her hymn, her testimony was, “I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee, / Precious Jesus, Saviour, Friend.” At her death, her fellow missionaries commented, “We miss her very much. But her influence goes on as our five thousand native Christians continually sing this hymn in their native language.”