Among the elect-ladies who have produced great uplifting hymns that “were not born to die” was Mrs. Elizabeth Payson Prentiss, the daughter of the saintly Dr. Edward Payson, of Portland, Maine. Her prose works were very popular, and “Stepping Heavenward” had found its way into thousands of hearts. But one day she—in a few hours—won her immortality by writing a hymn, beginning with the lines,
“More love to Thee, O Christ,
More love to Thee”
It was printed on a fly-sheet, for a few friends, then found its way into a hymn-book, edited by my well-beloved friend, Dr. Edwin F. Hatfield, and then it took wing and flew over the world into many foreign languages. I often met Mrs. Prentiss at the home of her husband, Dr. George L. Prentiss, an eminent professor in the Union Theological Seminary. She was a very bright-eyed little woman, with a keen sense of humor, who cared more to shine in her own happy household than in a wide circle of society. Her absolutely perfect hymn—for such it truly is—was born of her own deep longings for a fuller inflow of that love that casteth out all fear. This has been the genesis of all the soul-songs that devout disciples of our Lord chant into the ears of their Master in their hours of sweetest and closest fellowship. Mrs. Prentiss has put a new song into the mouths of a multitude of those who are “stepping heavenward.”
THE TEMPERANCE REFORM AND MY CO-WORKERS
As stated in the first chapter of this book, I became a teetotaler when I was a child, and I also stated that the first public address I ever delivered was in behalf of temperance. When I made my first visit to Edinburgh in 1842 I learned that a temperance society of that city was about to go over to Glasgow to greet the celebrated Father Theobald Mathew, who was making his first visit to Scotland. I joined my Edinburgh friends, and on arriving in Glasgow we found a multitude of over fifty thousand people assembled on the green. In an open barouche, drawn by four horses, stood a short, stout Irishman, with a handsome, benevolent countenance, and attired in a long black coat with a silver medal hanging upon his breast. After the procession, headed by his carriage, had forced its way through the densely thronged street, it halted in a small open square. Father Mathew dismounted, and began to administer the pledge of abstinence to those who were willing to receive it. They kneeled on the ground in platoons; the pledge was read aloud to them; Father Mathew laid his hands upon them and pronounced a benediction. From the necks of many a small medal attached to a cord was suspended. In this rapid manner the pledge was administered to many hundreds of persons within an hour, and fresh crowds continually came forward.