Posted by: rcottrill | April 15, 2010

Today in 1862 – Lelia Morris Born

Lelia Naylor lived in Ohio. With her mother and sister she opened a millinery shop, working there for many years. She married Charles H. Morris, and the couple was active in the Methodist Episcopal Church, and at holiness camp meetings. Lelia was encouraged to write hymns by H. L. Gilmour (who wrote the gospel song The Haven of Rest). She went on to write over 1,000 of them, in addition to many tunes. (This, in spite of being blind, later in life.) A few examples of her songs:

Let Jesus Come Into Your Heart
Nearer, Still Nearer
Sweet Will of God
Sweeter as the Years Go By
The Fight Is On
‘Tis Marvelous and Wonderful
What If It Were Today?

It is impossible to quote from all of these, but in 1898 Mrs. Morris gave us the lovely Nearer, Still Nearer.

Nearer, still nearer, close to Thy heart,
Draw me, my Saviour– so precious Thou art!
Fold me, oh, fold me close to Thy breast.
Shelter me safe in that “Haven of Rest”;
Shelter me safe in that “Haven of Rest.”

Nearer, still nearer, nothing I bring,
Naught as an offering to Jesus, my King;
Only my sinful, now contrite heart.
Grant me the cleansing Thy blood doth impart.
Grant me the cleansing Thy blood doth impart.

Published the same year was the hymn of invitation Let Jesus Come Into Your Heart. The refrain of the song came to Mrs. Morris in an unusual way.

Lelia Morris was attending a camp meeting in Maryland one Sunday morning. After a powerful message was presented on the need for repentance and faith in Christ, an “altar call” was given. One who came forward was a woman of obvious wealth and refinement.

As the woman knelt and prayed, Mrs. Morris saw that she was in some distress. Moving to her side, she put her arm around the weeping seeker. It soon became clear that she supposed there was something she had to do for God to earn salvation, rather than simply receiving it as a free gift in Christ.

Mrs. Morris said earnestly and gently, “Just now, your doubtings give o’er.” And the song leader who joined them added, “Just now, reject Him no more.” And the evangelist himself coming alongside said, Just now, throw open the door,” to which Mrs. Morris added, “Let Jesus come into your heart.” With that, the woman did so, receiving Christ as her Saviour (cf. Jn. 1:12-13). And strange as it may seem, Mrs. Morris was inspired to turn that three-way exchange into the refrain of the hymn, written later.

If you are tired of the load of your sin,
Let Jesus come into your heart;
If you desire a new life to begin,
Let Jesus come into your heart.

Just now, your doubtings give o’er;
Just now, reject Him no more;
Just now, throw open the door;
Let Jesus come into your heart.

If it’s for purity now that you sigh,
Let Jesus come into your heart;
Fountains for cleansing are flowing nearby,
Let Jesus come into your heart.

(2) Today in 1870 – Emma Willard Died
EGraphic Sailing Shipmma C. Hart was the daughter of a Unitarian clergyman, one of his 17 children! She married Dr. John Willard, and became an Episcopalian.

Emma Willard was a champion of women’s education, and she founded the first women’s school of higher education, a school that became Troy Female Seminary. During an ocean voyage in 1839, she wrote the song of assurance Rocked in the Cradle of the Deep.

Rocked in the cradle of the deep,
I lay me down in peace to sleep;
Secure I rest upon the wave,
For Thou, O Lord, hast power to save.
I know Thou wilt not slight my call,
For Thou dost mark the sparrow’s fall.

And calm and peaceful is my sleep,
Rocked in the cradle of the deep.

Perhaps it is the word “deep” that attracted bass soloists to this old song. Here is a recording from nearly a century ago of Wilfred Glenn singing it. And yes, he has a deep voice!


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