Tuesday, January 26, 2016

I love to steal awhile away
  From every cumbering care,
And spend the hours of setting day
  In humble, grateful prayer.

I love in solitude to shed
  The penitential tear,
And all His promises to plead
  Where none but God can hear.

I love to think on mercies past,
  And future good implore,
And all my cares and sorrows cast
  On Him whom I adore.

I love by faith to take a view
  Of brighter scenes in heaven;
The prospect doth my strength renew
  While here by tempests driven.

Thus, when life’s toilsome day is o’er,
  May its departing ray
Be calm as this impressive hour,
  And lead to endless day.  Amen

            Phoebe H. Brown, altered

Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.  Ps 55:17

     Mrs. Phoebe Hinsdale Brown was the daughter of George Hinsdale, and was born at Canaan, NY, May 1, 1783.  In reply to a question addressed to her by Rev. Elias Nason, she answered:  "As to my history, it is soon told:  a sinner saved by grace and sanctified by trials."
     An orphan at two years of age, she came upon the world in a somewhat poverty-stricken plight, and had to meet its rough ways as best she could.  She did not learn to read until she was eighteen years old, and it is recorded that she never had more than three months' schooling in the whole of her life.  Timothy H. Brown, a house-painter, married the affectionate and faithful creature, and she went to live in Ellington, Tolland County, Conn. 
     She was poetic by temperament, dreamy, a lover of nature, and deeply religious.  Her life was hard, her children were fretful, neighbors could not understand her when she went away into an adjacent grove to be by herself and pray, gossips gave other reasons.  Then she somehow composed a poem in nine simple stanzas, entitling it "An Apology for my Twilight Rambles, Addressed to a Lady."  This bears date of Ellington, August, 1818.  This hymn, as it now generally appears, was published in Village Hymns, compiled by Nettleton.
     She afterward told a friend that the piece was kept in a portfolio for a long time, and probably Rev. Lavius Hyde got hold of it and so it came to Mr. Nettleton, who afterward applied to her for some few more of the same sort.  She furnished two or three, but they were less valuable than the first one, and needed modification.  She once wrote that when her spot among the trees was broken up she often "thought Satan had tried his best to prevent her from prayer by depriving her of a place to pray."  Whether this was true or not, her later poems did not fulfill the promise of this hymn by which she is best known.                    
                                                                                          CHARLES SEYMOUR ROBINSON, D.D.

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