Born: Ja­nu­ary 21, 1849, Sa­line­ville, Ohio.

Died: March 6, 1919, Pe­or­ia, Il­li­nois.

Buried: Spring­dale Ce­me­te­ry and Mau­so­leum, Pe­or­ia, Il­li­nois. Some sourc­es spell her mid­dle name Har­ri­et, but her tomb­stone says Har­ri­ette.



Julia was the daugh­ter of Ro­bert John­ston and Jane G. Wa­ters. She was said to be a di­rect des­cend­ant of Ol­iv­er Crom­well and Will­iam the Con­quer­or.

From age six, she lived in Pe­or­ia, where her fa­ther was pas­tor of the First Pres­by­ter­ian Church. She di­rect­ed the Sun­day school there for ov­er 40 years.

She served as pre­si­dent of the Pres­by­ter­ian Mis­sion­ary So­cie­ty of Pe­or­ia for two de­cades, and wrote over 500 hymns.



The School of the Master

I am one of the lowliest learners,
Content in my corner to stay,
Yet I learn of a wonderful Teacher,
Who sets me a lesson each day.
There are clever and talented scholars,
Whose portions assigned are so grand
I but listen and watch from a distance,
For near them I never could stand;
Yet here in the School of the Master
All fitted and furnished, I see
A place for the lowliest learner,
And so there’s a corner for me.

The Teacher provideth a text-book
For all who are willing to learn;
Ability too, He will furnish,
The lessons of truth to discern.
And my book is the life all about me,
So simple, yet busy and sweet,
Though homely and quiet, ’tis truly
Not less with an interest replete.
As the life does not open out grandly,
Nor reach an expansion sublime,
So, the lessons I learn must be lowly,
And given just one at a time.

The writing is fine on some pages,
And then I bend low o’er the book,
The notes and the faint underlining
Distinctly I see when I look.
Many lessons of wisdom are oral,
The voice of the Master I hear,
Then I grow very quiet and hearken,
And wait for His word of good cheer.
Oh, life hath a marvelous meaning,
If we but interpret it right,
Each day is inscribed with a lesson,
So let us hold up to the light
Each one of the close-written pages,
Till all is quite clear to our sight.

Not one of the marvels of Nature,
Albeit in silence ’tis wrought,
Not one of life’s smallest conditions,
That is not instinct with a thought.
My duty and joy is to find it,
Though hidden in housewifely toils,
To search for it, inside and outside,
Till I can return with the spoils.
A gain, beyond all common measure,
Is ever a lesson discerned;
But precious and priceless the treasure
Of heart-lessons faithfully learned.

I have partly learned some of my lessons,
Some others but dimly I see;
I was ever, I think, a slow learner:
My Teacher is patient with me;
So patient and tender and loving,
So gentle and kindly His rule,
I care not how simple my lessons,
If they are but taught in His school;
Articulate then, in the breezes,
Or written in forest and field,
In homeliest details of living
The lessons of truth are revealed;
As fast as I see them and learn them,
Their sweetness and comfort they yield.

Julia Harriet Johnston
School of the Mas­ter, 1880



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