Born: December 14, 1836, Astley, Worcestershire, England.
Died: June 3, 1879, Caswell Bay (near Swansea), Wales.
Buried: Priory Church of St. Peter, Astley, Worcestershire, England. On her tombstone was the Scripture verse she claimed as her own:
The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin.
1 John 1:7
Frances was the daughter of William Havergal and Jane Head.
She was a bright but short lived candle in English hymnody. She was baptized by hymnist John Cawood, was reading by age four, and began writing verse at age seven.
She learned Latin, Greek and Hebrew, and memorized the Psalms, the book of Isaiah, and most of the New Testament.
Sweet blind singer over the sea,
Tuneful and jubilant, how can it be
That the songs of gladness, which float so far,
As if they fell from the evening star,
Are the notes of one who never may see
Visible music of flower and tree,
Purple of mountains, or glitter of snow,
Ruby and gold of the sunset glow,
And never the light of a loving face?
Must not the world be a desolate place
For eyes that are sealed with the seal of years,
Eyes that are open only for tears?
How can she sing in the dark like this?
What is her fountain of light and bliss?
O, her heart can see, her heart can see!
And its sight is strong, and swift and free;
Never the ken of mortal eye
Could pierce so deep, and far, and high
As the eagle vision of hearts that dwell
In the lofty, sunlit citadel
Of Faith that overcomes the world.
With banners of Hope and Joy unfurled,
Garrisoned with God’s perfect Peace,
Ringing with paeans that never cease,
Flooded with splendor bright and broad,
The glorious light of the Love of God.
Her heart can see, her heart can see!
Well may she sing so joyously!
For the King Himself, in His tender grace,
Hath shown her the brightness of His face;
And who shall pine for a glowworm light
When the sun goes forth in His radiant might?
She can read His law, as a shining chart,
For His finger hath written it on her heart;
She can read His love, for on all her way
His hand is writing it every day
Bright cloud indeed must that darkness be
Jesus only the heart can see.
Her heart can see! her heart can see,
Beyond the glooms and the mystery,
Glimpses of glory not far away,
Nearing and brightening day by day;
Golden crystal and emerald bow,
Luster of pearl and sapphire glow,
Sparkling river and healing tree,
Evergreen palms of victory,
Harp and crown and raiment white,
Holy and beautiful dwellers in light;
A throne, and One thereon, whose face
Is the glory of that glorious place.
Dear blind sister over the sea,
An English heart goes forth to thee.
We are linked by a cable of faith and song,
Flashing bright sympathy swift along;
One in the East and one in the West,
Singing for Him whom our souls love best,
Singing for Jesus, telling His love,
All the way to our home above.
Where the severing sea, with its restless tide,
Never shall hinder, and never divide.
Sister! what will our meeting be,
When our hearts shall sing and our eyes shall see?
Amid the broken waters of our ever-restless thought,
Oh be my verse an answering gleam from higher radiance caught;
That where through dark o’erarching boughs of sorrow, doubt and sin,
The glorious Star of Bethlehem upon the flood looks in,
Its tiny trembling ray may bid some downcast vision turn
To that enkindling Light, for which all earthly shadows yearn.
Oh be my verse a hidden stream, which silently may flow
Where drooping leaf and thirsty flower in lonely valleys grow;
And often by its shady course to pilgrim hearts be brought,
The quiet and refreshment of an upward-pointing thought;
Till, blending with the broad bright stream of sanctified endeavor,
God’s glory be its ocean home, the end it seeketh ever.
Was there silence over yonder?
Did the angels cease to sing
As they waited on in wonder
For the mandate of their king?
When the royal word was given
By which our hopes were crushed?
Was there silence up in Heaven?
Were the hallelujahs hushed?
Was there restless, earnest longing
’Mid the white-robed choral band,
As with eager footsteps thronging
At the gate they took their stand?
Was there overflowing gladness
On each bright, expectant face,
While our hearts were bowed with sadness,
And we mourned her vacant place?
Ah! methinks that when she entered
The celestial courts above,
Every thought and eye was centred
On the object of their love,
That the silence then was broken
By triumphant bursts of song,
For the word the King had spoken
Which had bid her join their throng!
But she passed them all unheeded
With a quick, impatient spring,
As she onward, onward speeded,
Till she stood before her king!
How her raptured eyes would glisten,
With a luster, oh, so bright!
And she still would stand to listen
And to revel in that sight!
Then, methinks, she struck the chorus,
And her rich melodious voice
Was above their tones sonorous,
Even sweeter and more choice.
And to us the echo stealing
Of the beautiful refrain
Bringeth life, and light, and healing,
Bidding us look up again!
Now we need not, cannot sorrow;
We must wipe our tears away,
And from her example borrow
Courage in the darkest day.
We must think of her as dwelling
In the presence of her king,
Where the angel voices swelling
Make the palace walls to ring!
Ellen Lakshmi Goreh
From India’s Coral Strand, p. 50