May 1716, Broughton, Hampshire, England.
November 11, 1778, Broughton, Hampshire, England.
Saint Mary’s churchyard, Broughton, Hampshire, England.
Anne was the daughter of William Steele, a timber merchant who was also a lay preacher at the Baptist church in Broughton. She lost her mother at age 3.
At age 19, a severe hip injury made her a lifelong invalid. At age 21, her fiancé drowned the day before they were to be married.
From this series of tragedies rose 144 hymns and 34 versified Psalms, which were enormously popular. Her main work was Poems on Subjects Chiefly Devotional (1760). When Trinity Church in Boston, Massachusetts (where Phillips Brooks was later rector) published its hymnal in 1808, 59 of its 144 hymns were from the pen of Anne Steele.
She preferred to remain anonymous, though, writing under a pen name. Her tombstone carried these words:
Silent the lyre, and dumb the tuneful tongue,
That sung on earth her great Redeemer’s praise;
But now in Heaven she joins the angelic song,
In more harmonious, more exalted lays.
My great preserver, to Thy gracious hand
My life, my safety, and my all I owe;
New gratitude Thy favors still demand,
And still my numerous obligations grow.
Oft hast Thou listened to my humble prayer,
Oft, at my cry, unwearied mercy came:
O be Thy goodness, Thy indulgent care,
My constant refuge, my delightful theme!
When warmed with grateful love to Thee, my Lord,
My thoughts begin to count Thy favors o’er,
The boundless sum, what numbers can record?
How vain the attempt! Astonished I adore!
Yet I may love Thee, this is Thy command,
Thy kind command, O make me all Thy own!
My powers, my passions, Lord, are in Thy hand,
And Thou canst mold them for Thy use alone.
This worthless heart, to Thee I would resign,
Poor as it is, Thy sovereign hand can raise
A monument to Thee, enrich, refine,
And there inscribe Thy mercies and Thy praise.
Thy wondrous praise, not all creation’s tongues
In one harmonious concert, can display;
Not the celestial choir’s enraptured songs,
Through vast eternity’s unbounded day.
And shall a reptile of the dust aspire
To join with angels in their high employ?
Lord, at Thy feet, I lay my trembling lyre
In silent awe, yet mixed with humble joy.
Yet, if Thou bid me try the heavenly theme,
And bless me with Thy smile, my lyre again
On every string shall sound Thy glorious name,
Thy smile shall animate the feeble strain!
If Thou accept, and aid my wish to praise,
Then shall my heart with glad devotion bring
(But ah, how mean Thy gift!) her sweetest lays
To Thee, my gracious God, my glorious King.
All I enjoy, and all I hope is Thine,
Unworthiness, alone, belongs to me;
Inspire me, O my God, with love divine,
And make my life a hymn of praise to Thee.
Poems on Subjects Chiefly Devotional, 1760
where to get Steele’s picture