Posted by: rcottrill | October 11, 2010

Today in 1895 – Avis Christiansen Born

Avis Marguerite Burgeson was a lifelong Chicago resident who attended the great Moody Church, pastored for many years by Dr. Harry Ironside. In 1917, Avis Burgeson married Ernest Christiansen who became a vice president of Moody Bible Institute. A modest and retiring woman, Mrs. Christiansen sometimes used pen names–Avis Burgesson, Christian B. Anson and Constance B. Ried. She began writing poems in childhood, and before her death in 1985 had written thousands of them–many of which were turned into insightful and singable gospel songs. Here are a few that she has given us.

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ
Blessed Calvary
Blessed Redeemer
Come, Come, Ye Saints*
Fill All My Vision
How Can It Be?
It Is Glory Just to Walk with Him
Jesus Has Lifted Me
Love Found a Way
Only One Life to Offer

*This is a much revised version of a Mormon hymn, rendering it more in keeping with orthodox Christianity. (See Today in 1846.)

One Sunday evening at Moody Church, Avis Christiansen heard a message by Paul Rader on John 3:16. He emphasized the love of God that provided for our salvation in the cross of Christ, and said, “Love found a way.” Musician Harry Dixon Loes was struck by the words, and quickly jotted down a few phrases. He gave them to his friend Avis, and the ideas later became her song,

Wonderful love that rescued me, sunk deep in sin,
Guilty and vile as I could be—no hope within;
When every ray of light had fled, O glorious day!
Raising my soul from out the dead, love found a way.

Love found a way, to redeem my soul,
Love found a way, that could make me whole.
Love sent my Lord to the cross of shame,
Love found a way, O praise His holy Name!

Here is a rendition of the above song on an electronic keyboard. I’m not partial to the repetitive emphasis on the 6/8 rhythm, (Oom-pa-pa, Oom-pa-pa). The song could have been played more smoothly, but it is well done otherwise.

Space won’t permit a discussion of many of Christiansen’s fine songs, but consider Blessed Calvary for a moment. The words are Avis’s. The tune was supplied by Lance Brenton Latham. Latham was an accomplished concert pianist. (I was privileged to hear him when he was in his eighties, and his playing even then was amazing!) He was also a pastor. But his most recognized accomplishment was his founding of a children’s club that eventually became the worldwide Awana Youth Association. (For more on the songs of Mrs. Christiansen, see Today in 1985.) For more on Lance Latham, see the third item under Today in 1685.) The Christiansen and Latham hymn says:

I look at the cross upon Calvary,
And O what a wonder divine!
To think of the wealth it holds for me–
The riches of heaven are mine.

Blessed Calvary, precious Calvary!
‘Neath thy shadow I’ll ever abide;
Blessed Calvary, precious Calvary!
‘Twas there Jesus suffered and died.

The cross is my hope for eternity–
No merit have I of my own;
The shed blood of Christ my only plea–
My trust is in Jesus alone.

(2) How Blest Was That Life (Data Missing)
Both the author of the words and the composer of the tune are unknown for this little song. (You can hear the tune played on the Cyber Hymnal.)

How Blest Was That Life reflects on how wonderful it would have been to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to His teaching, during His days here upon earth. But it reminds us as well that we serve a living Saviour, who continues to be accessible to us, and whom we will one day see.

How blest was that life once lived upon earth,
The life of the Saviour of men!
What joy was their part who learned at His feet,
Who loved and who worshipped Him then!

I know that He liveth, Redeemer and Friend,
To bless and to comfort our way;
I know the glad song of the heavenly throng—
He liveth, He liveth today!

The Friend of our need, the Hope of the world,
Abides with us still as of old;
When wandering far in sorrow and sin,
He leadeth us home to the fold.

Thou art not afar, in regions unknown:
Our faith reacheth up unto Thee;
And still, through the mists of ages long past,
The Saviour of sinners doth see.


  1. […] For a little more on Avis Christiansen and information on two more of her songs, see Today in 1895. […]

  2. […] Christiansen’s gospel song, Blessed Calvary. (To learn a bit more about Mrs. Christiansen, see Today in 1895, and Today in […]

  3. […] Mr. Loveless also pastored a number of churches, and wrote many gospel songs and choruses. He often provided tunes for texts written by other authors. For instance, he did this for Trust in the Lord, by Thomas Chisholm, and for Precious Hiding Place, by Avis Christiansen. (For more about Tom Chisholm and his songs, see Today in 1866. For more on Mrs. Christiansen and her many songs, see Today in 1895.) […]

  4. […] (For more about Mrs. Christiansen and her hymns, see Today in 1895.) […]

  5. […] (1895-1985) produced many fine gospel songs. (To learn more about her and her songs, see Today in 1895.) In 1918, Mrs. Christiansen published It Is Glory Just to Walk with Him. Haldor Lillenas provided […]

  6. […] Wordwise Hymns (Avis Christiansen) The Cyber […]

  7. […] Wordwise Hymns The Cyber […]

  8. […] Wordwise Hymns The Cyber […]

  9. […] Wordwise Hymns (Avis Christiansen born, died) The Cyber […]


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