Text: Louisa M.R. Stead
Music: William J. Kirkpatrick
Language: English (translated in Yoruba)
Scripture References: Psalm 9:10; 56:3-4; Proverbs 16:20; 30:5; Isaiah 12:2-16; Matthew 12:21; John 10:10; 14:1, 27; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 1:12-13; 1 Timothy 4:10; Hebrews 2:13
Liturgical Uses/Seasons: Advent, Assurance, Baptism, Commitment/Response, Confession of Faith, Easter, Lent
Themes: Jesus Christ, Love of God, Obedience, Perseverance, Salvation, Victory
Background Study of the Hymn
The hymn ‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus’ can be found in the Baptist Hymnal 1956 edition, Number 258. The hymn was written by Mrs. Louisa M.R. Stead, who lived between 1850-1917, while the composer was William J. Kirkpatrick, who lived between 1838-1921. The hymn was written in the key of A-flat major, with a four-four-time signature. The tune name is Trust in Jesus with 22.214.171.124. with the refrain, and the form of the hymn is Binary – AB. Appropriate biblical text for this hymn of faith and trust is found in Ps. 56:3-4, which says, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise – in God, I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”
History of the Hymn Writer
Mrs. Louisa Stead, a young missionary, was born in Dover, England, in 1850. She was married to Mr. Stead in 1875, and the marriage was blessed with a little girl, Lilly. One day, the young couple took their four-year-old girl to a beach picnic at Long Island Sound in New York. As they sat down, eating and enjoying themselves, they heard a cry of a boy in the sea. Mr. Stead quickly ran to save the life of the boy from the sea, and in an attempt to do so, the struggling boy pulled to himself Mr. Stead under the water, and they both drowned.
This was the end of Mr. Stead as he got drowned with the boy he was willing to help right before his wife and daughter. Mrs. Stead and her daughter stood helplessly watching their lovely husband and father disappear from their presence just like that. What a pathetic real-life story! It was in this state of despair that Mrs. Stead put down the lyrics of this hymn. However, Mrs. Stead did not allow this ugly situation to overwhelm her; instead, she merely learns to trust Jesus for provision and protection, which reflects her song.
The hymn is mostly sung as a congregational hymn with a conductor (sometimes). If it were in the Seminary, the conductor and the organist usually use hymnbooks while projected for the congregation on the television screens or projectors. Most churches in Nigeria use this latter media approach. Some churches that do not have projectors or television screens use unscored hymnals by individual worshipers. It is interesting to note that majority of these Western Gospel hymns that have been translated into Nigerian languages and other indigenous hymns are sung from memory by Nigerian adult Church members.
Contributed by Ayobami Ayanyinka