Adelaide Addison Pollard Let’s God Have His Way

Adelaide Addison Pollard was born at Bloomfield, Iowa, USA, on November 27, 1862.

Christened ‘Sarah’, but she did not like the name and ‘adopted’ Adelaide instead!

After studying elocution she moved to Chicago, Illinois, during the 1880’s and taught in several girls’ schools. During this time, she became rather well-known as an itinerant Bible teacher.

Later, she assisted the healing services and evangelistic ministry of John Alexander Dowie, playing a portable organ in his open-air meetings. She experienced healing of diabetes through his ministry. Still later, she assisted the ministry of another evangelist named Sanford, who emphasized the imminent return of Christ.

In 1902, at the age of 33 her desire to go to Africa as a missionary was thwarted causing her distress of soul. She had not been able to raise the necessary funds. Full of discouragement, she attended a little prayer meeting and was greatly touched by an elderly woman’s prayer. Omitting the usual requests for blessings and things this woman simply petitioned God for understanding of His will. Upon returning home that evening, Miss Pollard meditated further on the account of the potter, found in Jeremiah 18:3,4. Before retiring that evening, Miss Pollard completed all four stanzas of a hymn that is sung today.

Have Thine own way, Lord, have Thine own way;

Thou art the Potter – I am the clay;

Mould me and make me after Thy will,

While I am waiting, yielded and still.

When Adelaide’s plans for Africa failed to materialize, she spent several years teaching at the Missionary Training School at Nyack-on-the-Hudson. She did finally get to Africa for a short time, just prior to World War I and then spent most of the war years in Scotland. Following the war, she returned to America and continued to minister throughout New England, even though she was very frail and in poor health.

No one knows exactly how many other hymn texts Miss Pollard wrote throughout her life, since she never wanted any recognition for her accomplishments. Most of her writings were signed simply AAP.

Adelaide was regarded as a saintly woman, but also as one who lived the life of a mystic. She died in New York on 20 December, 1934, at the age of 72.

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History, which I previously considered to be a little stuffy and of little practical value. I find in the process of updating Don’s Christian Diary that I am being constantly refreshed, illuminated or challenged by the lives of those who have gone before.

William Cowper the Depressed Hymn Writer

William Cowper was born, in Hertfordshire, England, on November 26, 1731.

His father, Reverend John Cowper, was a Church of England clergyman. His mother, Anne, died when William was but six years of age, and he found himself in boarding school facing “loneliness, insecurity and bullying”. It was probably the result of these sad days that led to bouts of insanity in adulthood.

He studied law, was called to the bar in 1754 … but never practised law. Fear of appearing in public and mental illness prevented him from doing so. “On this occasion he bought poison and placed a penknife at his heart, but hadn’t the courage to kill himself by either. Then he tried hanging himself with a garter, but the garter broke” (Gospel in Hymns, by Barclay, page 13).

Lord David Cecil, in his biography of Cowper, tells us that he was committed to Dr Cotton’s asylum in St Albans, “a gibbering, raving maniac” (page 71). “Day after day he lay upon his bed bound for fear he would kill himself.”

The fear that he had committed the unpardonable sin burned into his brain.

It was whilst in the asylum, “walking in a garden, he came upon a Bible lying on a bench”. He read John 12 – and took the Bible to his room to read some more. “I flung myself into a chair near the window,” Cowper wrote later, “and ventured once more to apply to it for comfort and instruction. The first verse I saw was the 25th verse of Romans 3: “Whom God set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins.” Immediately, I received strength to believe it and the full beams of the Son’s righteousness shone upon me. I saw the sufficiency of the atonement He had made, my pardon sealed in His blood… In a moment I believed and received the gospel…” (Quoted in The Stricken Deer, the Life of Cowper, by Lord David Cecil, page 74).

It would be good to be able to say that he was miraculously healed of his mental troubles. But such was not the case. There were still days ahead of unbearable suffering, and attempted suicide again.

Eighteen months later, however, he left Dr Cotton’s asylum.

Cowper found lodging in Huntingdon, with the Reverend Morley Unwin, his wife Mary and his family. After Unwin was killed in a riding accident in 1767, Cowper continued to board with Mary and her family.

The following year Cowper and the Unwin ladies moved to Olney in Buckinghamshire to be under the ministry of the Reverend John Newton, who was the evangelical curate there. In 1786 Cowper and Mary Unwin moved to the nearby village of Weston Underwood.

Cowper formed a close friendship with Rev. John Newton who wrote “Amazing Grace”. For the next 12 years Newton and Cowper served the Lord as a team, the latter caring for “the poor, the sick and the dying”.

When a bout of melancholy oppressed his friend, Newton suggested they write hymns. Thus it was that William Cowper loomed large in the history of hymnody.
God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform …
There is a fountain filled with blood, Drawn from Immanuel’s veins …
Hark, my soul, it is the Lord, ‘tis the Saviour, hear His Word…
Oh, for a closer walk with God …
Sometimes a light surprises …
All these, and more, came from his pen.

Despite periods of severe depression (melancholia), Cowper’s eighteen years in Olney and eight at Weston Underwood were marked by his great literary achievements as poet, hymn-writer, letter-writer and translator.

Cowper’s works include: The famous Olney Hymns, published in 1779, on which Cowper and Newton collaborated; The Diverting History of John Gilpin, a humorous ballad written in 1782 and first published anonymously, but which became so popular that after Cowper admitted authorship, he became a household name; The Task, which condemned slavery, published in 1785 and was very well received by all levels of society, including the Royal Family, influencing the later Romantic poets such as William Wordsworth; and a new translation of Homer, which Cowper planned as an improvement on Alexander Pope’s version.

Cowper was also one of the greatest English letter-writers, writing both of everyday life in Olney and Weston Underwood and of political and literary events. His letters show wit, acute observation and great good humour.

Cowper’s place at Olney is now a museum. A painting on the wall shows an eccentric poet absent-mindedly boiling his watch over the grate and holding an egg in his hand! (Bailey, page 133).

Bouts of depression continued until 25 April, 1800, when he passed into his heavenly home where suffering and pain are no more.

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History, which I previously considered to be a little stuffy and of little practical value. I find in the process of updating Don’s Christian Diary that I am being constantly refreshed, illuminated or challenged by the lives of those who have gone before.

The Centurion’s Christmas – A Christmas Play

More than twenty years ago I wrote a Christmas Play based around the idea of two Roman Soldiers who expect Bethlehem and baby Jesus to be long forgotten.

I took the idea from a short skit I once saw, and then I wrote a couple of simple songs to go with the Christmas drama. We used it with our Sunday School children, including several of my own sons.

I have made the script available to you to use with your own Christmas celebrations, apart from the other Christmas Play, “Christmas Without Jesus”, which I passed on to you several days ago.

The story starts with shepherds being visited by the angels, then the Roman soldiers enter and meet the shepherds. It turns out that the soldiers saw the glow of the angels, but did not know what it was.

The shepherds find Jesus in the stable and are busy adoring Him when the Centurions barge in to count the people present. As the soldiers leave they ridicule the idea that Bethlehem and Jesus will ever be heard of again.

Check out the whole script by going to the chrisfieldblog.com site and looking for The Centurion’s Christmas in the left hand column.

You are welcome to use the play for any not-for-profit presentation. Please let me know if you use it, just so I can know that it has been useful to someone.

John Knox Trumpets Protestantism

John Knox died on November 25 in 1572.

The exact date of his birth, even the year, is unknown. Biographers range from 1505 to 1514, but nobody knows for sure. His birth is generally accepted to be at Giffordgate, 16 miles east of Edinburgh, in 1513 to 1514.

John entered the University of Glasgow in 1522, where he studied under John Major, one of the greatest scholars of the time. In 1540 he was already ordained a priest in the Roman Catholic Church and that he was a priest before he was 25 years of age.

John’s conversion to the Protestant faith likely came through the influence of George Wishart, the leader among the Scottish reformers, who met him in late 1545 and was burned at the stake shortly afterward. Wishart met Knox in December 1545.

John then spent some months as bodyguard (“drawn sword in hand”) to George Wishart. But on 29 February, 1546, Wishart was martyred.

John Knox was first called to the Protestant ministry at St. Andrews, which was throughout his life intimately associated with the Reformer’s career. The castle of St Andrews was attacked in July 1547 and Knox was arrested by the Roman Catholic authorities. Thus it was for 18 months that Knox found himself as a galley-slave on a French ship, the “Notre Dame”. The experience permanently injured his health.

In 1549 we find him preaching up a storm both in the British Isles and on the Continent. He then spent some years in Geneva, where Calvin was exercising a remarkable influence.

Knox returned to his native land “a Calvinist of the Calvinists”, and found himself in head-on collision with the Roman Catholic queen. When Mary, Queen of Scots, had mass celebrated in her palace chapel, the “thundering Scot” made known his feelings on this ‘sin of idolatry’ from the pulpit of St Giles.

His denunciations of the mass and Roman Catholicism in general did much to bring about a law, passed by the Scottish Parliament on 1 August, 1560, establishing Protestantism as the religion of that country. It is probably true to say that Knox was a stern man, but he lived in an age that needed someone of his character to stem the inroads of Romanism.

Among his writings are: “History of the Reformation in Scotland”, “Against the Monstrous Rule of Women” and a long and elaborate treatise on predestination published in 1560.

Shortly before his death he asked his wife to read him John 17 – “for that is where I first cast my anchor”.

At his graveside the Earl of Mortoun, regent of Scotland, in the presence of an immense funeral procession, declared: “Here lyeth a man who in his life never feared the face of man, who hath been often threatened with dagger, but yet hath ended his dayes in peace and honour.”

Speaking of John Knox, Thomas Carlyle said: “And to be sure there is a power in unswerving conviction that inevitably arrests the attention of both men and nations. There is an almost indescribable appeal that attaches itself to uncompromising vision and principled passion. This fact was undoubtedly illustrated quite vividly all throughout the life and work of John Knox.”

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History, which I previously considered to be a little stuffy and of little practical value. I find in the process of updating Don’s Christian Diary that I am being constantly refreshed, illuminated or challenged by the lives of those who have gone before.

Karl Hugo Hahn Labours in South West Africa

Karl Hugo Hahn died on November 24, 1895, as the most famous German missionary to Africa, after faithfully labouring among the Herero of Damaraland.

Born in Riga, Latvia on October 18, 1818, Hahn became a Rheinish (Lutheran) missionary to Africa and worked industriously to elevate the tribal people of South West Africa (now Namibia), but ultimately with limited success.

Hahn was sent into Damaraland by the Rheinish Missionary Society of Africa in 1841, as the second missionary to the interior. His mission was to make links with the Herero people if he could. Traveling to “the place of the big spring” where the Herero tribe was last located Hahn arrived to find that they had moved on in search of better grazing for their herds. Hahn built his mission station on the spot, nonetheless, and named is Gross Barmen. This was to be Hahn’s mission base for many years. He later brought his bride, English born Emma Hone (over four years his senior), to join him there.

Tribal tensions were a major problem at the time as the Herero migrated south and met other tribes migrating north. The southern tribes enlisted help from the well armed Jonker Afrikaner, and his Oerlom, who violently attacked the Herero people, killing, maiming and robbing them freely.

In 1851 many Herero had resorted to Hahn for some protection but a massacre occurred at Moordkoppie (Murder Hill) in which a large number of Herero were killed. Women had their feet cut off to get the metal bands around their ankles.

After spending almost ten years in Namibia (1857), Emma wrote to her mother in England: “All is very dull here. To the missionaries it is peculiarly a waiting time, a time for the full exercise of patience, and that is sometimes on the wane, when they see that the Word [of God] is, so to say, daily preached to them in their own language, the people still are as ‘deaf adder that stoppeth her ear’.”

Hahn and Emma enjoyed a four year furlough in Germany and returned in 1863 with a new project in mind. Since the Herero were resistant to the gospel the missionaries would create a western style community which could educate the choicest candidates for future leadership in their own nation. So they established the first production centre in Namibia.

Rather than reach out to the poor and marginalised, Hahn planned to train the sons of chieftains, so they could be preachers and maintain a productive lifestyle. Hahn despised European materialism and sought to raise African Nations which could be free from the evils of the west. However, he did not count on the sheer power of those European nations in their claim upon Africa.

In 1866 Hahn commenced his school, to train men to lead, preach and teach their own people. The project had some impact but was not supported by the mission societies and also could not successfully attract enough of the right candidates. It may have been because of the schooling venture that Hahn broke from the Rheinish Missionary Society in 1873

Among his successes was a young Herero lady who worked as domestic servant to Carl and Helen. She initially came to the mission school and learned sewing, but was soon teaching classes. She became fluent in English, Dutch and German and translated materials into Herero and travelled with the Hahn’s to Europe as an example of their impact.

Hahn had nine books published in Germany in the early 1860’s. And he also wrote a Grammar for the Herero language.

After quitting with the Missionary Society Hahn pastored St Martins German Lutheran Church in Cape Town from 1874 to 1884.

His Gross Barman mission station and school was disbanded in 1902. The German colonialists did not want to give quality education to the tribal people, even though they knew they were just as intelligent as any European. They wanted labourers for the mines and farms, not educated people who might not fit in with their plans.

Carl’s children followed his religious convictions and some returned to Germany, while others served in the armed forces and suffered under the Nazis for doing so. Their daughter Emma married a pastor and moved to New York, where Emma died in 1906.

Karl Hugo Hahn ceased his labours on November 24, 1895.