Born: January 21, 1849, Salineville, Ohio.
Died: March 6, 1919, Peoria, Illinois.
Buried: Springdale Cemetery and Mausoleum, Peoria, Illinois. Some sources spell her middle name
Harriet, but her tombstone says
Julia was the daughter of Robert Johnston and Jane G. Waters. She was said to be a direct descendant of Oliver Cromwell and William the Conqueror.
From age six, she lived in Peoria, where her father was pastor of the First Presbyterian Church. She directed the Sunday school there for over 40 years.
She served as president of the Presbyterian Missionary Society of Peoria for two decades, and wrote over 500 hymns.
I am one of the lowliest learners,
Content in my corner to stay,
Yet I learn of a wonderful Teacher,
Who sets me a lesson each day.
There are clever and talented scholars,
Whose portions assigned are so grand
I but listen and watch from a distance,
For near them I never could stand;
Yet here in the School of the Master
All fitted and furnished, I see
A place for the lowliest learner,
And so there’s a corner for me.
The Teacher provideth a text-book
For all who are willing to learn;
Ability too, He will furnish,
The lessons of truth to discern.
And my book is the life all about me,
So simple, yet busy and sweet,
Though homely and quiet, ’tis truly
Not less with an interest replete.
As the life does not open out grandly,
Nor reach an expansion sublime,
So, the lessons I learn must be lowly,
just one at a time.
The writing is fine on some pages,
And then I bend low o’er the book,
notes and the faint underlining
Distinctly I see when I look.
Many lessons of wisdom are oral,
The voice of the Master I hear,
Then I grow very quiet and hearken,
And wait for His word of good cheer.
Oh, life hath a marvelous meaning,
If we but interpret it right,
Each day is inscribed with a lesson,
So let us hold up to the light
Each one of the close-written pages,
Till all is quite clear to our sight.
Not one of the marvels of Nature,
Albeit in silence ’tis wrought,
Not one of life’s smallest conditions,
That is not instinct with a thought.
My duty and joy is to find it,
Though hidden in housewifely toils,
To search for it, inside and outside,
Till I can return with the spoils.
A gain, beyond all common measure,
Is ever a lesson discerned;
But precious and priceless the treasure
Of heart-lessons faithfully learned.
I have partly learned some of my lessons,
Some others but dimly I see;
I was ever, I think, a slow learner:
My Teacher is patient with me;
So patient and tender and loving,
So gentle and kindly His rule,
I care not how simple my lessons,
If they are but taught in His school;
Articulate then, in the breezes,
Or written in forest and field,
In homeliest details of living
The lessons of truth are revealed;
As fast as I see them and learn them,
Their sweetness and comfort they yield.
Julia Harriet Johnston
School of the Master, 1880
If you know where to get a better photo of Johnston,