Frances Ridley "Fanny" Havergal was an English poet and hymnwriter. Take My Life and Let it Be is, undoubtedly, her best known hymn. She also wrote hymn melodies, religious tracts, and works for children. She did not occupy, and did not claim for herself, a prominent place as a poet, but by her distinct individuality, she carved out a niche which she alone could fill.
Fanny was born on 14th December 1836 at Astley, Worcestershire, England. Her father, William Henry Havergal, was a clergyman, writer, composer, and hymnwriter. Her mother was Jane Head. Like their father, her brothers, Henry East Havergal and Francis Tebbs Havergal, were Church of England ministers.
Her father was appointed rector of St Nicholas', Worcestershire, when she was five years old. She wrote verses from the age of seven with remarkable fluency. In 1852 she accompanied her father and his second wife to Germany; studied for more than a year in the Louisenschule at Düsseldorf and in the family of a German pastor at Obercassel. On her return to England, she was confirmed in Worcester Cathedral, 17th July 1853. In 1860, she left Worcester upon her father resigning the Rectory of St Nicholas, and resided at different periods in Leamington, and at Caswell Bay, Swansea, broken by visits to Switzerland, Scotland, and North Wales. She led a quiet life, not enjoying consistent good health.
Her hymns praised the love of God, and His way of salvation to this end, and for this object, her whole life and all her powers were consecrated. She lived and spoke in every line of her poetry. Her religious views and theological bias were distinctly set forth in her poems, and may be described as mildly Calvinistic, without the severe dogmatic tenet of reprobation. The burden of her writings was a free and full salvation, through the Redeemer's merits, for every sinner who will receive it, and her life was devoted to the proclamation of this truth by personal labours, literary efforts, and earnest interest in foreign missions and the Church Missionary Society.
Frances' hymns were frequently printed as leaflets and as ornamental cards. They were gathered together from time to time and published:
Frances passed away from peritonitis, unmarried, on 3rd June 1879 at Gower Peninsula, Swansea, overlooking Caswell Bay, Glamorgan, Wales. She was just 42 years of age. On 9th June, her worn-out body was buried in the far western corner of the churchyard at St Peter's parish church, Astley, together with her father and near her sister, Maria Vernon Graham Havergal.
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