Miss FRANCES RIDLEY HAVERGAL was the daughter of a clergyman of the Church of England, the Rev. W. H. Havergal. He was both musician and hymn-writer; and his gifted daughter, consecrating her life and her talents to the Master, wrote many helpful hymns, setting some of them to her own music, as is illustrated by the hymn, “Golden harps are sounding.”
Miss Anne Steele, who lived and wrote some of the best hymns in the eighteenth century, frequently signed her hymns with the name “Theodosia.” Miss Havergal has been compared with Miss Steele and is sometimes styled “the Theodosia of the nineteenth century,” so influential has her life proved to be through her hymns as well as through her many other good works.
The Havergal manuscripts contain the following account of the writing of this hymn: “When visiting at Parry Barr,” Miss Havergal “walked to the boys’ schoolroom, and being very tired she leaned against the playground wall while Mr. Snepp went in. Returning in ten minutes, he found her scribbling on an old envelope. At his request she gave him the hymn just penciled, Golden harps are sounding. Her popular tune, Hennas, was composed for this hymn.”
At the age of forty-two, she died at Caswell Bay, Swansea. But shortly before she passed away, closing a life of rare usefulness in the salvation of many souls, she gathered up her strength and sang :