Louisa Stead was born in Dover, England in 1850. As a teenager, Stead felt called to be a missionary. She went to America at age 21, and lived for a time in Cincinnati, Ohio. Attending a camp meeting in Urbana, Ohio, she felt the missionary calling even more strongly. Unfortunately, she was not able to go to China as she had intended, due to her frail health. She married a Mr. Stead in 1875 and moved to New York, where the couple had a daughter, Lily. When Lily was four years of age, the family decided one day to enjoy the sunny beach at Long Island Sound, New York. While eating their picnic lunch, they suddenly heard cries of help and spotted a drowning boy in the sea. Mr. Stead charged into the water. As often happens, however, the struggling boy pulled his rescuer under water with him, and both drowned before the terrified eyes of Louisa and her daughter. Out of her ‘why?’ struggle with God, during the ensuing days, glowed the meaningful words of the hymn1.
‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
and to take him at his word;
just to rest upon his promise,
and to know, “Thus saith the Lord.”
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust him!
How I’ve proved him o’er and o’er!
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
O for grace to trust him more!
O how sweet to trust in Jesus,
just to trust his cleansing blood;
and in simple faith to plunge me
neath the healing, cleansing flood!
Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
just from sin and self to cease;
just from Jesus simply taking
life and rest, and joy and peace.