by Louisa M. R. Stead, 1882
‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His Word;
Just to rest upon His promise,
Just to know, “Thus saith the Lord.”
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er;
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
Oh, for grace to trust Him more!
Oh, how sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to trust His cleansing blood;
And in simple faith to plunge me
‘Neath the healing, cleansing flood!
Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just from sin and self to cease;
Just from Jesus simply taking
Life and rest, and joy and peace.
I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee,
Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;
And I know that Thou art with me,
Wilt be with me to the end.
Louisa M. R. Stead (c. 1850-1917) was born in Dover England, and was converted at the age of nine. She came to the United States in 1871 and settled in Cincinnati, Ohio. Shortly thereafter, she attended a camp meeting in Urbana, Ohio, where she dedicated her life to missionary service, although poor health prevented her from being able to fulfill her commitment.
Louisa was married in 1875, and a daughter, Lily, was born to them. When their daughter was four years old, they went on a family outing to the beach. While eating their picnic lunch, they heard cries for help coming from the water. Louisa’s husband stood up and saw a boy struggling in the waves. He immediately went in to rescue the lad, but in his panic, the boy pulled his rescuer under water, and they both drowned while Louisa and her little girl looked on in horror. The words to “Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus” came in response to her struggle with this tragedy.
Shortly after her husband’s death, Louisa and Lily left for Cape Colony, South Africa, where Louisa worked as a missionary for fifteen years. She married Robert Wodehouse, a native of South Africa. The family was forced to return to the United States in 1895 due to her health. Wodehouse pastored a Methodist congregation during these years until, in 1900, they returned to the mission field, this time to the Methodist mission station at Umtali, Southern Rhodesia (present day Zimbabwe).
Hymnologist Kenneth Osbeck records a message sent back to the United States shortly after her arrival in Southern Rhodesia:
“In connection with the whole mission there are glorious possibilities, but one cannot, in the face of the peculiar difficulties, help but say, ‘Who is sufficient for these things?’ But with simple confidence and trust we may and do say, ‘Our sufficiency is of God.’”
Lily married a young man in Africa and continued her missionary work in South Rhodesia for many years. Louisa retired in 1911 because of ill health, though she remained in Africa. She passed away in 1917 at her home in Penkridge near the Mutambara Mission, fifty miles from Umtali. Following her death, it was recorded that Christians in South Rhodesia continued to sing her hymn in the local Shona language.
Photo taken in Milton, FL, 2018