Spend time reading letters, notes and journals of some of our most famous hymn writers of old, and you soon discover the gentle hints of what captures their heart and imagination. These gems of inspiration spark creativity and lead their sight upon something far deeper than the confines of what the iris detects.
Miss Anne Steele (1726 - 1788) was a hymn writer that confronted the constant challenge of living an active hope in the midst of pain, struggle and disappointment. Her blend of life’s reality struck a chord for many people, and brought the Gospel message in a tone that echoed the footsteps of pilgrims of all ages.
Her love for the location she lived, Broughton, echoed through a number of her writings:
I enjoy a calm evening on the terrace walk, and I wish, though in vain, for numbers sweet as the lovely prospect, and gentle as the vernal breeze, to describe the beauties of charming spring; but the reflection how soon these blooming pleasures will vanish, spreads a melancholy gloom, till the mind rises by a delightful transition to the celestial Eden - the scenes of un-decaying pleasure and immutable perfection.
It never ceases to amaze me the intricacy of wonder that resides within a creation that I so often pass by in quick step. The ever moving second hand of my watch informs me of my next meeting and rendezvous, the exciting and so easily accessible applications on my phone tempt my attention to focus upon their instant wonders and news feeds. Yet this created world carries a beautiful tapestry of the ‘now’ and ‘future’; of a present work of art from the Craftsman and an ongoing masterpiece that is only glimpsed through a veil and misty window.
A carefully placed comma in our lives invites us to take a breath and consider what truth is being declared before us - and I just wonder whether the hymn writers of old remind us that one of those commas is creation itself. A display of God’s wonder that draws our gaze past our own self-created world and onto a glorious kingdom that is both at hand and just coming into sight.