Miss Anne Steele, 1716-1778

Notes from Dr. Julian's Hymnology:

Miss Steele was the daughter of Mr. William Steele, a timber merchant, and pastor without salary of the Baptist Church at Broughton in Hampshire. At an early age she showed a taste for literature and would often entertain her friends by her poetical compositions. But it was not until 1760 that she could be prevailed upon to publish... Among Baptist hymn-writers, Miss Steele stands at the head, if we regard either the number of her hymns which have found a place in the hymnals of the last 120 years or the frequency with which they have been sung. Although few of them can be placed in the first rank of literary compositions, they are almost uniformly simple in language, natural and pleasing in imagery and full of genuine Christian feeling. Miss Steele may not inappropriately be compared with Miss F.R. Havergal, our 'Theodosia' of the 19th century. In both there is the same evangelic fervour, in both the same intense personal devotion to the Lord Jesus. But while Miss Steele seems to think of Him more frequently as her 'bleeding, dying Lord' — dwelling on His sufferings in their physical aspect, Miss Havergal oftener refers to His living help and sympathy, recognises with gladness His present claims as Master and King, and anticipates almost with ecstasy His second coming. Looking at the whole of Miss Steele's hymns, we find in them a wider range of thought than in Miss Havergal's compositions. She treats of a greater variety of subjects. On the other hand, Miss Havergal, living in this age of missions and general philanthropy, has much more to say concerning Christian work and personal service for Christ and for humanity.

Miss Steele suffered from delicacy of health and from a great sorrow which befell her in the death of her betrothed under peculiarly painful circumstances. In other respects her life was uneventful and occupied chiefly in the discharge of such domestic and social duties as usually fell to the lot of the eldest daughter of a village pastor. She was buried in Broughton Churchyard.

Miss Steele's hymn in 'Spiritual Songs' is no. 432, "And did the Holy and the Just". An excellent Gospel message is contained in this hymn, and the assurance of salvation through the work of the Lord Jesus on Calvary's Cross.

Hymns by Miss Anne Steele