• Fruit of the Spirit,  Anne Steele

How Oft, Alas, This Wretched Heart

Jeremiah 3:12: “Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the Lord; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the Lord, and I will not keep anger for ever.”

Psalm 119:176: “I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments.

Hosea 6:1: “Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.”

Anne Steele

Anne Steele (1716-1778) was a poet and hymn writer. She was contemporary with John Gill, Augustus Toplady and George Whitefield. Her ancestors were numbered among the Puritans and she hailed from a long line of gospel preachers. She was the eldest daughter of a Baptist preacher named William Steele. He oversaw a congregation in Hampshire, England, where he and his family lived. At an early age, her mother died. A few years later she sustained a permanent injury to her hip after falling from a horse. After her twenty-first birthday, she was married to a Mr. Elscourt, but he died on the day of their wedding in a drowning accident. She therefore lived under her father’s care until his death, at which time she lived with her brother for the remainder of her life. After showing a gift for writing poetry, her father advised her to use a pseudonym so as not to be lifted up with pride. She therefore attributed her poems and hymns to the name “Theodocia”, which means “devoted to God”. She prepared her first selection of hymns while in her forties, on which occasion her father recorded in his diary—“Nov. 29. 1757, This day, Nanny sent part of her composition to London, to be printed. I entreat a gracious God, who enabled, and stirred her up to such a work, to direct in it and bless it for the good of many…I pray God to make it useful, and keep her humble."