Helen Lemmel

Helen Lemmel

Born: No­vem­ber 14, 1863, War­dle, Eng­land.
Died: No­vem­ber 1, 1961, at her home in Se­at­tle, Wash­ing­ton.

Hymns by Helen Lemmel

Helen Howarth Lemmel: A Life of Faithfulness Amidst Trials

In a world that often measures success by fame, fortune, and worldly accolades, the life of Helen Howarth Lemmel stands as a testament to the enduring power of faith and the impact one person can make when they fix their eyes on Jesus.

A Prodigious Talent Dedicated to God

Born on November 14, 1863, in Wardle, England, Helen was the daughter of a Wesleyan Methodist pastor. From a young age, her extraordinary singing voice was evident to all. When her family immigrated to America when Helen was 12, settling in Wisconsin, her reputation as a brilliant singer only grew.

Helen’s talents took her far and wide, from studying voice in Germany for four years to touring the American Midwest, holding concerts in countless churches. She shared her musical gifts freely, teaching voice at the prestigious Moody Bible Institute and the Bible Institute of Los Angeles.

Faithfulness in the Face of Adversity

But Helen’s life was not without its trials. At the height of her career, she was struck blind, and her husband callously abandoned her, leaving her destitute. Lesser souls might have succumbed to bitterness or despair, but Helen’s faith remained unshakable.

When friends asked how she was faring, Helen’s reply was always the same: “I am fine in the things that count.” Her words were not mere platitudes, but a reflection of a heart deeply rooted in Christ. Though her physical eyes could no longer see, her spiritual vision remained clear and undimmed.

A Moment of Divine Inspiration

It was during this season of hardship that Helen penned her most famous hymn, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.” In 1918, while standing on a street corner, Helen was handed a tract by a missionary friend. The words “So then turn your eyes upon Him, look full into His face and you will find that the things of earth will acquire a strange new dimness” leapt off the page, striking a chord deep within her soul.

As Helen later recounted, “I stood still, and singing in my soul and spirit was the chorus, with no one conscious moment of putting word to word to make rhyme or note to note to make melody.” The verses flowed effortlessly, a divine download straight from the throne room of grace.

A Legacy of Praise

“Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” quickly became a beloved hymn, crossing oceans and denominational divides. But it was just one of the many gifts Helen offered up to her Savior. Over the course of her life, she composed more than 500 hymns and poems, authored a successful children’s book, and created numerous pieces of music for children.

Even in her later years, as she subsisted on meager government assistance, Helen’s joy and zeal for the Lord never waned. Friends tell of her calling at all hours to dictate a new hymn that had come to her, not wanting to forget a single heaven-sent word.

A Life Poured Out for Christ

On November 1, 1961, just shy of her 98th birthday, Helen Howarth Lemmel passed from this life into the presence of the Savior she had loved and served so faithfully. Hers was a life poured out as a drink offering, a testament to the truth that when we turn our eyes upon Jesus, everything else fades in comparison.

May Helen’s legacy inspire us to fix our gaze on the Author and Perfecter of our faith, trusting that He will work all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. In the light of His glory and grace, may we, like Helen, find that the things of earth grow strangely dim.

Don Chapman

Don Chapman

Composer/arranger Don Chapman has created HYMNDEX as a labor of love to help new generations learn about the lives, legacies and lyrics of historic hymn writers.