Her Story: Early Female Christian Writers

 At the beginning of the year, I was given a daily devotional book by a friend that consists of the life stories of 366 Christian women. The name of the devotional is called Her-Story: 366 Devotions from 21 Centuries of the Christian Church by Diana Lynn Severance 

It is chronological and so it starts with Mary (mother of Jesus) and progresses to modern times. I find myself inspired by the different women that remained faithful  during times of extreme violent persecution (some of whom were very young), women that were a silent but major influence of Christian revivals (like the mother of Martin Luther), and women that despite their wealth (or lack thereof), health issues or societal status, they founded hospitals, school, food kitchens, orphanages, and more (some which are still in operation today). 

However, some of the women that fascinate me the most are those who received the gift of writing. I want to introduce you to three of my favorite female writers. They are women that I would love to ask to be a guest writer on this blog.  While I can’t do that (since they are with God), I will share some of their work and poetry. They are gone but shouldn’t be forgotten. 

 Serving God despite her Pain 

Charlotte Elliot  –  1789-1871

Charlotte was born in England; in her youth, she was popular for her art and her poetry. However, around the age of 30, she became ill and was bedridden for the rest of her life. She was frustrated with her situation and was angry with God; however, she (with the help of a minister) accepted Jesus and started to write hymns. Her work was published in The Invalid’s Hymn Book, here is one of her most famous hymns: 

Just As I am 

Just as I am, without one plea
But that thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidd’st me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come 

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind,
Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea, all I need, in Thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come 

Just as I am, Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come. 

Just as I am, Thy love unknown
Has broken every barrier down
Now to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come. 

 This hymn has encouraged many and was used at every Billy Graham Crusade.  To learn more about her life Click Here. Click here to listen to it sung by the Billy Graham crusade choir.

First African American Female Poet 

Phillis Wheatley – 1753-1784

Phillis was brought over from Africa to Boston at the age of seven and was of very frail health.  She was bought by John Wheatley, his family treated her with kindness, taught her to read, and introduced her to the Bible. She was very smart and learned Greek and Latin. The Wheatley family noticed that she was excellent at writing poetry and in 1770 they took her to London to find a publisher for her poems. 

Her poems were published in 1773 (she was only 20!) in the book Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral 

Here is a sample of one of her poems: 

 On Being Brought from Africa to America: 

‘Twas mercy brought me from my Pagan land,
Taught my benighted soul to understand
That there’s a God, that there’s a Saviour too:
Once I redemption neither sought nor knew.
Some view our sable race with scornful eye,
“Their colour is a diabolic die.”
Remember, Christians, Negro’s, black as Cain,
May be refin’d, and join th‘ angelic train.  

 She was given her freedom in 1773 but stayed with the Wheatley’s until 1778. She died in 1784 at the age of 31. To read about her and her poems Click Here. 

Looking to the Lord during the Heartbreaks 

Anne Bradstreet 1612–1672

Anne was born in England but moved to America in 1633, during a Puritan migration. She wrote different pomes and biblical reflections. Including a volume of poetry called The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in AmericaHowever, in 1666 her house burned down, and she wrote the following poem:

Verses upon the Burning of our House, July 10th, 1666

Here Follows Some Verses Upon the Burning
of Our house, July 10th. 1666. Copied Out of
a Loose Paper.
In silent night when rest I took,
For sorrow near I did not look,
I wakened was with thund’ring noise
And piteous shrieks of dreadful voice.
That fearful sound of “fire” and “fire,”
Let no man know is my Desire.
I, starting up, the light did spy,
And to my God my heart did cry
To straighten me in my Distress
And not to leave me succourless.
Then, coming out, behold a space
The flame consume my dwelling place.
And when I could no longer look,
I blest His name that gave and took,
That laid my goods now in the dust.
Yea, so it was, and so ‘twas just.
It was his own, it was not mine,
Far be it that I should repine;
He might of all justly bereft
But yet sufficient for us left.
When by the ruins oft I past
My sorrowing eyes aside did cast
And here and there the places spy
Where oft I sate and long did lie.
Here stood that trunk, and there that chest,
There lay that store I counted best.
My pleasant things in ashes lie
And them behold no more shall I.
Under thy roof no guest shall sit,
Nor at thy Table eat a bit.
No pleasant talk shall ‘ere be told
Nor things recounted done of old.
No Candle e’er shall shine in Thee,
Nor bridegroom‘s voice e’er heard shall be.
In silence ever shalt thou lie,
Adieu, Adieu, all’s vanity.
Then straight I ‘gin my heart to chide,
And did thy wealth on earth abide?
Didst fix thy hope on mould’ring dust?
The arm of flesh didst make thy trust?
Raise up thy thoughts above the sky
That dunghill mists away may fly.
Thou hast a house on high erect
Frameed by that mighty Architect,
With glory richly furnished,
Stands permanent though this be fled.
It‘s purchased and paid for too
By Him who hath enough to do.
A price so vast as is unknown,
Yet by His gift is made thine own;
There‘s wealth enough, I need no more,
Farewell, my pelf, farewell, my store.
The world no longer let me love,
My hope and treasure lies above.

 

I absolutely love this poem, especially the last two lines The world no longer let me love,  My hope and treasure lies above. She understood to build her treasures in heaven, where no fire would burn them down.  

Here are some other lovely female writers that I recommend – You can click on them to learn more about their lives and their work.  

They are gone but shouldn’t be forgotten. 

                 Milo 

 

 

 

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