Dear Refuge of My Weary Soul

Trilium from Cedar Bluff  (April 9)


NOTE: This post is a re-run from 2005. This hymn is a favorite of mine, especially in difficult times.


“Dear Refuge of My Weary Soul” was written by Anne Steele who lived from 1716-1778. Miss Steele’s father supported their family as a timber merchant, but he also preached for 60 years at a Baptist church in Broughton, England. Adversity was a theme of her life. Her mother died when she was a very young girl, and she herself was an invalid most of her life due to a hip injury when she was 19. Two years later Miss Steele became engaged to marry Robert Elscourt, only to have him drown while bathing in a river the day before the wedding! She remained single throughout her life, and assisted her father in his pastoral ministry.

Suffering plus the Holy Spirit created in Miss Steele not bitterness but a life characterized by cheerfulness and helpfulness. Her character was said to be one of “unaffected humility, warm benevolence, sincere friendship, and genuine devotion.”

A lover of poetry, she used this as a means to express her trust in and love for her Savior. Many of her poems were set to music as hymns, though Miss Steele only allowed her work to be published when she was assured of anonymity, and she gave all proceeds to charity. Henry Burrage wrote in 1888 that “her hymns, written to lighten her own burdens, give beautiful expression to the sweetness of her Christian character, and the depth of her Christian experience.”

I would love to have known Miss Steele. Thankfully, by the words she left behind, her life can still serve as an encouragement to me and others to walk in trust day by day, no matter what is going on.

(Biographic material taken from here. You can also read the words to the hymn she composed upon her fiance’s death, and find beautiful piano music for “Dear Refuge of My Weary Soul” here.

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 heart 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 thoughts 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 see 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.
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