Frances Havergal (1836-1879) was an unusual woman. The daughter of a minister, she mastered Greek and Hebrew to read the scriptures in their original languages. Having grown up in England, she traveled in Europe and enjoyed skiing in the Swiss Alps—an unusual recreation in the nineteenth century. She was also an accomplished singer who sometimes sang with the Philharmonic.
Havergal was a Christian all her life, but at age 36 experienced what we might describe as a conversion experience. A little book entitled All for Jesus made her aware of the incompleteness of her own devotion, and she rededicated her life to Christ.
Soon thereafter, she spent five days with a small group of people, some of whom were not Christians, and others of whom were lukewarm. She spent those five days witnessing to them and praying for them, and was delighted to see her prayers answered. By the end of that week, all ten people had devoted themselves to Christ. That night, too excited to sleep, Havergal sat up writing this hymn, “Take My Life and Let It Be.”
Her devotion to Christ took many shapes. For one, she quit singing in secular venues and devoted herself to Christian music. For another, she donated her collection of jewelry to a missionary society to raise money for mission endeavors. But those were merely minor notes in the symphony of devotion that was Frances Havergal’s life.
— Copyright 2007, Richard Niell Donovan