Louisa M R Stead

Louisa M R Stead

Born: Circa 1850, Do­ver, Eng­land.
Died: Jan­ua­ry 18, 1917, Penk­ridge, Zim­bab­we.
Buried: Penk­ridge, Zim­bab­we.

Hymns by Louisa M. R. Stead

Louisa M.R. Stead: A Life of Faith, Tragedy, and Triumph

In the annals of Christian hymnody, countless stories of faith and perseverance have inspired generations of believers. One such story is that of Louisa M.R. Stead, the English-born missionary whose unwavering trust in God, even in the face of unimaginable tragedy, gave birth to the beloved hymn “‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus.”

A Young Girl’s Missionary Calling

Louisa M.R. Stead was born in England in 1850. From a tender age, she felt a strong calling to serve as a missionary, a desire that would shape the course of her life. At around 21 years old, Louisa immigrated to America, settling in Cincinnati, Ohio. It was during a camp meeting in Urbana, Ohio, that her missionary calling intensified, though her frail health prevented her from fulfilling her dream of serving in China.

Marriage and Tragedy

In 1875, Louisa married a man named George Stead, and together they had a daughter named Lily. Tragically, their happiness was short-lived. During a family picnic outing on Long Island Sound, George heard the cries of a young boy struggling in the water offshore. Without hesitation, he plunged into the sea to save the child, but both drowned as Louisa and Lily watched helplessly from the shore.

Trusting in Jesus Amid Sorrow

In the depths of her grief, Louisa turned to the one constant in her life: her Savior, Jesus Christ. As she poured out her heart in prayer and tears, the words of what would become her most famous hymn began to take shape:

‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His word;
Just to rest upon His promise,
And to know, ‘Thus saith the Lord.’

These words, born from a place of unimaginable pain, would become a source of comfort and hope for Louisa and her daughter as they navigated their loss together.

A Life Dedicated to Missions

Despite the tragedy that had befallen her family, Louisa’s missionary zeal never waned. Around 1880, she embarked on a journey to South Africa, where she served as a missionary for approximately 15 years. During her time there, she remarried, becoming the wife of Robert Wodehouse.

In 1895, Louisa returned to America to recover her health, but her heart remained steadfast in her commitment to spreading the Gospel. In 1901, she once again answered the call to missions, this time in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). Her daughter Lily followed in her mother’s footsteps, marrying D.A. Carson and becoming a missionary herself.

A Legacy of Faith and Trust

Louisa M.R. Stead’s life serves as a powerful testament to the sustaining grace of God in the face of adversity. Her unwavering faith and trust in her Savior, even in the darkest of times, continues to inspire Christians around the world through the words of her beloved hymn, “‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus.”

As we reflect on Louisa’s story, we are reminded that no matter the storms we face in life, we can always find shelter and peace in the arms of our loving Savior. May her legacy of faith and trust encourage us to cling ever more tightly to the One who promises to never leave us nor forsake us.

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.