Daniel March was born in Massachusetts. He ministered in Congregational and Presbyterian churches, and had a great interest in world missions. On one occasion in 1868 he was invited to speak at a meeting of the Christian Association of Philadelphia. Wanting to present the need for believers to be willing to serve the Lord, he chose as his text the words of Isaiah 6:8, “Also I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me.’”
Not finding a hymn to suit the text, Daniel March wrote his own–Hark, the Voice of Jesus Calling.
Hark, the voice of Jesus calling,
“Who will go and work today?
Fields are ripe and harvests waiting,
Who will bear the sheaves away?”
Long and loud the Master calls us,
Rich reward He offers thee;
Who will answer, gladly saying,
“Here am I, send me, send me”?
If you cannot cross the ocean,
And the distant lands explore,
You can find the lost around you,
You can help them at your door;
If you cannot give your thousands,
You can give the widow’s mite;
What you truly give for Jesus,
Will be precious in His sight.
(2) Today in 1829 – Priscilla Owens Born
Of Scottish-Welsh descent, Priscilla Jane Owens was a public school teacher in the city of Baltimore for 49 years. She was also much involved in the work of the Sunday School, and wrote most of her hymns for use there. Two fine gospel songs of hers are still sung today. Jesus Saves was written for a missionary service of the Union Square Methodist Church which she attended. (For a change, try singing this song to Josiah Booth’s tune Limpsfield.)
We Have an Anchor, written in 1882, is another of Priscilla Owens’s hymns. In the days before air travel, journeys by sea were common. In the latter half of the nineteenth centyry, steam power was just beginning to overtake the use of sail driven vessels. Voyages in the Atlantic and Pacific were filled with hazards. This provided an instructive parallel to the spiritual dangers we face in life, and we can see the use of maritime imagery in many of our hymns.
The Bible speaks of “the hope which is laid up for [us] in heaven” (Col. 1:5), using the word “hope” in the biblical sense of the joyful certainty of future blessing. The writer of Hebrews calls it “the hope that is set before us,” and he says, “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast” (Heb. 6:18-19). The presence of Christ already in Glory is the basis for this strong assurance (vs. 20).
Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,
When the clouds unfold their wings of strife?
When the strong tides lift and the cables strain,
Will your anchor drift, or firm remain?
We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Saviour’s love.
It is safely moored, ’twill the storm withstand,
For ’tis well secured by the Saviour’s hand;
And the cables, passed from His heart to mine,
Can defy that blast, through strength divine.
The original version of the final stanza preserves the interrogative pattern of the earlier ones. But there is merit in a later revision that makes the song end with a testimony of assurance. Here are the two, and you can decide for yourself which is best.
Will your eyes behold through the morning light
The city of gold, and the harbour bright?
Will you anchor safe by the heav’nly shore
When life’s storms are past for evermore?
When our eyes behold through the gath’ring night
The city of gold, our harbour bright,
We shall anchor fast by the heav’nly shore,
With the storms all past forevermore.