Posted by: rcottrill | March 30, 2010

Today in 1798 – Luise Hensel Born

Every once in awhile, in this blog, I take us a bit off the beaten path, by including a hymn writer or hymn that is relatively unknown. The work of Luise Hensel is like that. She was the daughter of a Lutheran pastor in Germany, confirmed in the Lutheran faith at the age of 15. But she gradually drifted toward Roman Catholicism, and joined the Catholic church at the age of 20. She went so far as to espouse ultramontanism, which places strong emphasis on the prerogatives and powers of the pope of Rome.

For most of her adult life, Luise Hensel devoted herself to the care of the sick, and the education of children. She wrote a number of hymns, including the children’s hymn Ever Would I Fain Be Reading, which John Julian describes as a nursery classic. (“Fain” means willingly, gladly.)

Ever would I fain be reading
In the ancient holy Book,
Of my Saviour’s gentle pleading,
Truth in every word and look.

How when children came He blessed them,
Suffered no man to reprove,
Took them in His arms, and pressed them
To His heart with words of love.

How to all the sick and tearful
Help was ever gladly shown;
How He sought the poor and fearful,
Called them brothers and His own.

How no contrite soul e’er sought Him,
And was bidden to depart,
How with gentle words He taught him,
Took the death from out his heart.

Let me kneel, my Lord, before Thee,
Let my heart in tears o’erflow,
Melted by Thy love adore Thee,
Blest in Thee ’mid joy or woe!

SINGING TEMPO. Is there one correct pace at which to sing out hymns? No. But we do need to consider the matter of tempo, because it has a significant effect on how the message of the songs is conveyed. Check The Tempo of Congregational Singing.

(2) Today in 1942 – Anne Murphy Died
The Apostle Paul tells us he learned how to handle either deprivation or abundance. He says “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content….I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:11-13). Some of us are still struggling with that learning process! But one whose remarkable life illustrates the principle in more recent times is Annie May Sebring Murphy (1878-1942).

The Sebring family founded the town of Sebring, Ohio, in 1898, where they opened five pottery plants, eventually employing some 3,300 people. But they wanted Sebring to be much more than a one-industry town, hoping it would become a model community. A staunch Methodist, founding father George Sebring hoped that retired servants of Christ would come and live there. And each of his sons built beautiful homes near one another.

In time, Anne Sebring married William Murphy, the head cashier of the Citizens Banking Company, and the future seemed rosy for another branch of the family. Anne used her family wealth in the service of Christ. A talented musician, soloist and public speaker as well, she was also active in a local Christian camp ministry. In 1908, she penned a beautiful gospel song entitled Constantly Abiding. It is based on the promise of the Lord Jesus, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).

The Sebring Brothers Pottery Company made millions for the owners, and was well on the way to fulfilling the claim that Sebring would become “the pottery capital of the world.” Then the Great Depression struck, and the business totally collapsed. Around the same time, William Murphy died, and Anne was left destitute. She moved to California to live with relatives. But gospel musician Phil Kerr called on Mrs. Murphy shortly before she died. He testified to her great serenity and peace, saying that she was the living embodiment of her song.

There’s a peace in my heart that the world never gave,
A peace it cannot take away;
Though the trials of life may surround like a cloud,
I’ve a peace that has come here to stay!

Constantly abiding, Jesus is mine;
Constantly abiding, rapture divine;
He never leaves me lonely, whispers, O so kind:
“I will never leave thee,” Jesus is mine.

This treasure I have in a temple of clay,
While here on His footstool I roam;
But He’s coming to take me some glorious day,
Over there to my heavenly home!


  1. […] the Christian camp at Sebring, Ohio. It was there that another hymn writer frequently ministered. Anne May Sebring Murphy, a member of the Sebring family that founded the town, wrote the gospel song Constantly Abiding, in […]


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