By Vance Christie
Frances Ridley Havergal (1836-1879) was a popular English poet and hymnist. Many of her poems and hymns emphasized devotional closeness to Christ and dedicated service to Him. Those were primary emphases Frances sought to cultivate in her own life and to promote to other believers.
Such consecration is clearly seen in her best-known hymn, “Take My Life and Let It Be,” as well as in some of her other well-known hymns which are still sung today: “Lord, Speak to Me,” “I Gave My Life for Thee” and “Who Is on the Lord’s Side?”
Each New Year’s Day, Frances reconsecrated herself to living for Jesus. As a result, she wrote several New Year’s hymns, “Another Year Is Dawning” being the most popular of those. She composed this particular poem near the end of 1873 as a prayer for New Year’s 1874. She had it printed on a greeting card to be sent to friends. The card’s caption read, “A Happy New Year! Ever Such May It Be!”
As circumstances turned out, Frances herself ended up needing this prayer, for just a few days later, she experienced a stunning setback. She was looking forward to being launched as an author in America, and her agent in New York had made reassuring promises. Then a letter came which she thought would bring a royalty check, perhaps the first of many. She anticipated receiving a royalty payment of thirty-five British pounds, equaling 175 American dollars (worth 4,550 dollars today). Instead, the letter brought the intelligence that her publisher had gone bankrupt in the Stock Market crash of 1873.
Frances had only recently entrusted all her affairs to the Lord. As a result, she was able to bear this sudden reversal of her prospects with peace. She wrote of this to a friend:
“I have just had such a blessing in the shape of what would have been only two months ago a really bitter blow to me. … I was expecting a letter from America, enclosing thirty-five pounds now due me, and possibly news that [my book] was going on like steam. The letter has come, and instead of all this, my publisher has failed in the universal crash. He holds my written promise to publish only with him as the condition of his launching me, so this is not simply a little loss, but an end of all my American prospects. …
I really had not expected that God would do for me so much above all I asked, as not merely to help me to acquiesce in this, but positively not to feel it at all. And only to rejoice in it as a clear test of the reality of victorious faith, which I do find brightening almost daily. Two months ago, this would have been a real trial to me, for I had built a good deal on my American prospects; now ‘Thy will be done’ is not a sigh but only a song.”
By God’s grace working in her life, on this occasion, Frances certainly lived up to the sincere consecrated sentiments she had not long before penned in “Another Year Is Dawning.”
Whether or not you are familiar with this hymn, I would encourage you to spend a few minutes contemplating and perhaps even singing it. (It is set to the tune of another well-known hymn, “The Church’s One Foundation.”) May the Lord help all of us to live lives that are characterized by deep trust and devotion to Him in the coming year.
“Another Year Is Dawning”
1. Another year is dawning: Dear Father, let it be,
In working or in waiting, Another year with Thee;
Another year of Progress, Another year of praise,
Another year of proving Thy presence all the days.
2. Another year of mercies, Of faithfulness and grace;
Another year of gladness In the shining of Thy face;
Another year of leaning Upon Thy loving breast;
Another year of trusting, Of quiet, happy rest.
3. Another year of service, Of witness for Thy love;
Another year of training For holier work above
Another year is dawning: Dear Father, let it be,
On earth or else in heaven, Another year for Thee.
Some of the information in this article was gleaned from Robert Morgan’s uplifting book Then Sings My Soul, 150 of the World’s Greatest Hymn Stories (Thomas Nelson, 2003). Vance Christie is an author and speaker who specializes in the field of historical Christian biography. www.vancechristie.com
©2022 by Vance E. Christie