The author of the words of this beautiful hymn was a high-caste native of India. After her conversion to Christianity, it is said, she spent some years in the home of an English clergyman, and wrote the poem…there. It made its appearance in a book of poems of which she was the author…
The hymn was first sung by [George Stebbins] as an offertory in one of the churches in Brooklyn, New York. It was often repeated as an offertory, and on occasions was sung in evangelistic services. But it had its larger introduction to the public during the All-Winter Mission conducted by Mr. Moody and myself in London in the winter of 1883–84, when I sang it frequently, as did Mr. Stebbins, who spent several months assisting in the mission. It was also often sung by Miss Beaucham, daughter of the late Lady Beaucham and since the wife of Colonel Drury-Lowe, one of the heroes of the Indian Mutiny, and uncle of Lord Curzon, Viceroy and Governor-General of India.
The hymn at once came into general favor, and the deeply spiritual tone of the words brought blessing to many. The song was afterwards published in Gospel Hymns, and in Sacred Songs and Solos. Very soon it found its way into all parts of the world. Dr. Hudson Taylor, head of the great China Inland Mission, stated at Northfield [Massachusetts] that it was the favorite hymn of his missionaries.
The winter of 1890–91 Mr. and Mrs. Stebbins spent in India. While visiting the city of Allahabad, the home of Miss Goreh, Mr. Stebbins sought her out and made her acquaintance. He found her engaged in mission work among the women of India, a modest, devoted Christian, held in high esteem by missionaries of all denominations and by all who knew her.
Thus the two singers whose names had become associated in Christian song met each other—one from the far East, and one from beyond far Western seas—both inspired by the same Lord, in the secret of whose presence they long since came to abide.
Sankey, pp. 166–67
In the secret of His Presence
How my soul delights to hide!
Oh, how precious are the lessons
Which I learn at Jesu’s side!
Earthly cares can never vex me,
Neither trials lay me low;
For when Satan comes to tempt me,
To the secret place I go,
To the secret place I go.
When my soul is faint and thirsty,
’Neath the shadow of His wing
There is cool and pleasant shelter,
And a fresh and crystal spring;
And my Savior rests beside me,
As we hold communion sweet:
If I tried, I could not utter
What He says when thus we meet,
What He says when thus we meet.
Only this I know: I tell Him
All my doubts, my griefs and fears;
Oh, how patiently He listens!
And my drooping soul He cheers:
Do you think He ne’er reproves me?
What a false friend He would be,
If He never, never told me
Of the sins which He must see,
Of the sins which He must see.
Do you think that I could love Him
Half so well, or as I ought,
If He did not tell me plainly
Of each sinful deed and thought?
No, He is very faithful, and
That makes me trust Him more:
For I know that He does love me,
Though He wounds me very sore
Though He wounds me very sore.
Would you like to know the sweetness
Of the secret of the Lord?
Go and hide beneath His shadow:
This shall then be your reward;
And whene’er you leave the silence
Of that happy meeting place,
You must mind and bear the image
Of the Master in your face,
Of the Master in your face.
You will surely lose the blessing,
And the fullness of your joy,
If you let dark clouds distress you,
And your inward peace destroy;
You may always be abiding,
If you will, at Jesu’s side;
In the secret of His Presence
May you every moment hide
May you every moment hide.