Saturday, August 5, 2017

Hymns & Hymn Writers: 'Tis So Sweet to Trust In Jesus by David R. Kenney

The lyrics to “’Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus,” according to Praise for the Lord, was written by Louisa M. R. Stead c. 1880, and was set to music by William J. Kirkpatrick in 1882.  The song first appeared in Songs of Triumph in 1882.  The song has been recorded by several popular recording artists such as Roy Clark, Glen Campbell, Alan Jackson, and Amy Grant to name a few. 

Louisa M. R. Stead (c. 1850-1917), Lyricist

Louisa Stead was born in Dover, England around 1850.  She migrated to America at the age of 21.   She was married and had a daughter named Lilly.  Her family was out picnicking on Long Island when a young boy screamed that he was drowning.  Stead’s husband drowned trying to save the young boy.  Life was difficult for them, but others helped them along the way.  It is believed that the lyrics to this song came out of her experiences at this time.  The two would go on to serve as missionaries to South Africa.  She remarried Robert Wodehouse while overseas, but she returned to America in 1895.  She then went to Zimbabwe in 1901.  She died January 18, 1917 in Penkridge, Zimbabwe and is buried there. 

William James Kirkpatrick (1838-1921), Composer

William James Kirkpatrick (February 27, 1838 – September 20, 1921) was born in Keerogue, County Tyrone, Ireland.   His parents were Thomas and Elizabeth Storey Kirkpatrick.  The family migrated to the United States settling in Philadelphia in 1840, but William did not immediately come with the family.  They wanted to get settled in the New World, and then they planned to send for William.  Incidentally, the mother had another child, a daughter, on the journey to America.  William’s parents were schoolmaster and musician, so he received musical training at a very young age.  He traveled to America in 1854 where he learned to play the cello, flute, organ, violin, and other instruments.  In 1855 he used a lot of his talents and education with the Methodist Episcopal Church, plus he joined Hayden Sacred Music Society that broadened his exposure to composers.  He also wrote under a pseudonym of Annie F. Bourne.

He helped publish his first work, Devotional Melodies, in 1859.  He married Sara Lankford Kellog in 1861.  He enlisted in the 91st Regiment of the Pennsylvania Volunteers as a Fife-Major shortly after his marriage, but the position was terminated in 1862.  He continued his work with the Episcopal Methodist Church.  He would eventually go into the music business with John R. Sweeney and they published over 49 major works together.  When Kirkpatrick’s wife died in 1878, he devoted his time to music composition.  He re-married in 1893 and traveled the world.  He continued to publish compositions, over a hundred.  One night, he had a tune he wanted to write down, so his wife went onto bed.  She found him dead the next morning, September 20, 1921. He was buried in Laurel Hill Cemetery in Bala Cynwyd, PA.

He left us some wonderful music we often sing:  “A Wonderful Savior Is Jesus My Lord,” “Lead Me To Calvary,” Lord, I’m Coming Home,” “He Hideth My Soul,” “O To Be Like Thee,” “We Have An Anchor,” “Stepping in the Light,” “Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah,” and others. 

‘Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus

Jesus and Joshua are the same name.  Joshua is the Hebrew form and Jesus is the Greek form.  Joshua means “Jehovah is salvation” according to Brown-Drivers-Briggs Hebrew Lexicon. Jesus’ name means “Jehovah is salvation” according to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon.  Recall the words of the angel to Joseph:  “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21 NKJV)  The salvation of souls is the reason that Jesus came to this world.  His coming was planned before the foundation of the world, prophesied in the Old Testament, confirmed in the New Testament, and He continues to be the Savior of the world to those who obey Him.

When Jesus was preparing to ascend back to Heaven, He encouraged His followers with these words:  “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.” (Matthew 28:18–20 NKJV) The word for age (αἰών aiṓn) can refer to the end of the world but also include into eternity.  In other words, Jesus promises to be with us forever.

We can trust Jesus!  He has made the way of salvation and provided an abundant entrance into Heaven–“Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:10–12 NKJV)  It is sweet to trust in Jesus, and we can have confidence in His word because of His divine demonstration and compassion!


Howard, V. E., and Broadus E. Smith, eds.  Church Gospel Songs & Hymns. Texarkana, TX:  Central Printers & Publishers, 1983.

“”Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus,” No pages. Cited 30 July 2017. Online:

“William J. Kirkpatrick,” No pages. Cited 30 July 2017. Online:

“Louisa M. R. Stead,” No pages. Cited 30 July 2017. Online:

Wiegand, John P., Editor. Praise for the Lord. Nashville, TN:  Praise Press, 1997.

No comments: