Julia Harriette Johnston

Julia Harriette Johnston

Born: Ja­nu­ary 21, 1849, Sa­line­ville, OH.
Died: March 6, 1919, Pe­or­ia, IL.
Buried: Spring­dale Ce­me­te­ry and Mau­so­leum, Pe­or­ia, IL.

Hymns by Julia Harriette Johnston

A Voice of Faith in a Time of Change

In an era when women were often silenced in the church, Julia Harriette Johnston emerged as a powerful voice of faith, using her gift of writing to inspire believers and share the message of God’s grace. Born on January 21, 1849, in Salineville, Ohio, Johnston’s life was shaped by her strong Christian upbringing and her family’s dedication to ministry.

Early Life and Spiritual Foundation

As the daughter of Presbyterian minister Robert Johnston, Julia spent her early years in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, before moving with her family to Peoria, Illinois, at the age of six. Growing up in a household where both her mother and grandmother were poets, Julia discovered her own talent for writing, initially using the pen name “Juniata.”

Julia’s mother played a significant role in her spiritual development, establishing the Presbyterian Missionary Society of Peoria. This organization would become a central part of Julia’s life, as she dedicated more than twenty years to leading and serving within its ranks.

A Life Devoted to Ministry and Education

Throughout her life, Julia Johnston actively participated in her church’s ministry, serving as a Sunday school superintendent and teacher for over four decades. Her passion for sharing the Gospel and nurturing the faith of others extended beyond the classroom, as she authored numerous books on Christian missions and missionaries.

Julia’s commitment to education also led her to write Sunday School lessons for the David C. Cook Publishing Company, further expanding her influence and reaching countless individuals with her insights and teachings.

A Hymn Writer’s Legacy

While Julia Johnston’s contributions to ministry and education were significant, it was her incredible talent for composing hymns that truly left a lasting impact on the Christian faith. Over the course of her lifetime, Johnston penned more than 500 hymns, each one a testament to her deep love for God and her desire to share His truth with the world.

In a time when women were prohibited from public ministry, Johnston found a way to make her voice heard through the medium of hymn writing. Many of her hymns served as social, religious, and biblical commentary, addressing topics such as the Temperance Movement, personal spiritual experiences, and scriptural interpretation.

Julia H Johnston writing a hymn

“Grace Greater Than Our Sin”

Of the hundreds of hymns Julia Johnston wrote, “Grace Greater Than Our Sin” stands out as her most enduring and beloved composition. Written around 1910, this hymn is a beautiful commentary on Romans 5, particularly verse 20b, which states, “But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.”

Set to music by Daniel B. Towner and published in 1911 in Hymns Tried and True, “Grace Greater Than Our Sin” has touched the lives of countless believers, reminding them of the limitless nature of God’s grace and the power of justification by faith. The hymn’s timeless message continues to resonate with Christians around the world, more than a century after its creation.

A Legacy of Faith and Inspiration

Julia Harriette Johnston’s life was a shining example of devotion, service, and the transformative power of the written word. Through her hymns, books, and teachings, she left an indelible mark on the Christian faith, inspiring generations of believers to embrace God’s grace and share His love with others.

When Julia passed away on March 6, 1919, in Peoria, Illinois, she left behind a rich legacy of faith, education, and musical inspiration. Her unwavering commitment to her beliefs, her family’s spiritual heritage, and her God-given talents continue to influence and uplift Christians to this day, reminding us all of the enduring impact one person can have when they dedicate their life to serving the Lord.

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.