Grace Church is in the middle of a difficult season. We’ve encountered grave sickness and death. Some of us have suffered fractured and failed relationships. Parents have watched their children struggle with illness. We’ve seen first-hand the heart-breaking effects of sin. Perhaps you’ve looked to the heavens for answers and perceived only silence. Our song of the month is a hymn that will help us express our pain and doubt while bringing us back in faith to the throne of grace.

Isaac Watts, John Newton… Anne Steele?

If we recount the names of the greatest English hymn writers, not many of us would recognize the name of Anne Steele. Yet, at the dawn of the 19th century, she had published 3 volumes of hymns and was later described as “the first woman writer whose hymns came to be largely used in hymn-books, and she is the greatest Baptist hymn-writer.”

Her life was marked by suffering, and by strong faith, and these two tensions are evident in many of her hymns. Kevin Twit points out that, “Probably half of her hymns deal explicitly with suffering and doubts…” In contrast to this honesty about suffering, her songs point us consistently to Heaven, to the Father, and to Christ.

A Song of Lament

One overwhelming characteristic of the book of Psalms, the worship book of Israel and the early Church, is the regular use of lament, that act of bringing our pains, sorrows, doubts, and fears before the Lord. Some argue that singing songs of Lament is one area that the Western Church needs growth more than any other. This Sunday, as we learn our Song of the Month, Grace Church will expand her vocabulary of lament with Anne Steele’s hymn, Dear Refuge of My Weary Soul.

Dear refuge of my weary soul,
On Thee, when sorrows rise
On Thee, when waves of trouble roll,
My fainting hope relies
To Thee I tell each rising grief,
For Thou alone canst heal
Thy Word can bring a sweet relief,
For every pain I feel

But oh! When gloomy doubts prevail,
I fear to call Thee mine
The springs of comfort seem to fail,
And all my hopes decline
Yet gracious God, where shall I flee?
Thou art my only trust
And still my soul would cleave to Thee
Though prostrate in the dust

Hast Thou not bid me seek Thy face,
And shall I seek in vain?
And can the ear of sovereign grace,
Be deaf when I complain?
No still the ear of sovereign grace,
Attends the mourner’s prayer
Oh may I ever find access,
To breathe my sorrows there

Thy mercy seat is open still,
Here let my soul retreat
With humble hope attend Thy will,
And wait beneath Thy feet,
Thy mercy seat is open still,
Here let my soul retreat
With humble hope attend Thy will,
And wait beneath Thy feet