Frances Ridley Havergal was born in 1836, the youngest child of a Church of England minister. She became a Christian when she was fourteen.
Frances began writing poetry when she was seven and in her life wrote numerous hymns and poems as well as booklets. Her writings are permeated with a deep love for Jesus and a desire to live ALL her life in undivided devotion to Him – a total consecration.
Francis was a pianist and singer and used her musical gifts to reach people in hospital wards. She visited the poor and went into people’s houses to read the Bible and tell them about Jesus. She sometimes led meetings, too, to lead people into a fuller consecration. She was an avid Bible student and skilled linguist – being proficient in Hebrew, Latin and Greek.
In her lifetime,several men wanted to marry Frances but she felt that if she married it would diminish her devotion to Jesus and she deliberately chose to remain single and leave marriage aside.
The most famous hymn penned by Frances is:“Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee.” She wrote it after she helped several people to find faith in Jesus.
“I was too happy to sleep, and passed most of the night in praise and renewal of my own consecration; and these little couplets formed themselves, and chimed in my heart one after another till they finished with ‘ever only, ALL FOR THEE!'”
In 1878 Frances wrote the following letter to a friend:
“The Lord has shown me another little step, and, of course, I have taken it with extreme delight.’Take my silver and my gold’ now means shipping off all my ornaments to the church Missionary House, including a jewel cabinet that is really fit for a countess, where all will be accepted and disposed of for me … Nearly fifty articles are being packed up. I don’t think I ever packed a box with such pleasure.”
Frances died in 1879, at the age of forty-two.
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Renate Roth comes from Switzerland. She tells her story:
I met the Jesus Fellowship while I was working as a volunteer at Ashburnham Place (a Christian conference centre) during the summer months of 1979. God opened my eyes to the beauty and possibility of a shared lifestyle, as we read in the early chapters of Acts. Visiting one of the Church’s households for a few days before returning to Switzerland, I heard God’s call and moved into community in October 1981.
Inspired by the lives of many of my friends who were celibates, I considered this way of life before God over some time, until I knew in my heart that this was God’s call for me. I made my vow of celibacy in January 2000 before the whole church.
Inspired by the message of Frances Havergal’s famous hymn, Renate has written the following words to express her own longing to live totally devoted to Jesus:
Take my will and make it strong for You, Lord
May it be no longer mine, but Yours
I long that all I ‘will’ may bring You glory
Lord, take my will, and make it strong for You.
Take my hands and let them move for others
At the impulse of Your mighty love
May they be hands that bless Your chosen people
Lord, take my hands, and let them move for You.
Take my voice and let me sing for ever
Songs of praises to my Lord and King
A sacrifice of worship and thanksgiving
Lord, take my voice, and let me sing for You.
Take my love, and fill my life with Yours, Lord
At Your feet its treasure store I pour
May it refresh the feet of Your redeemed ones
Lord, take my love, and fill my life with Yours.
Take my heart, it shall be Yours for ever
May it be a royal throne for You
Come purify my longings and desires
Lord, take my heart, it shall be Yours alone.
Lord, take myself and these my Zion brethren,
Transform our hearts to love with Jesus’ love,
That world will see we’re Your disciples
And join themselves to our Redeemer’s Bride.
In the Old Testament ‘Zion’ was the district in Jerusalem where the temple stood and the Jews saw it as the place where God was present in a special way – in the midst of His people. There are many prophecies in the Old Testament about the restoration of Zion after its destruction in 587BC at the hands of the Babylonians. Over the centuries Christians have seen the church as ‘Zion’ and part of the fulfilment of these prophecies.