Born: May 1716, Brough­ton, Hamp­shire, Eng­land.

Died: No­vem­ber 11, 1778, Brough­ton, Hamp­shire, Eng­land.

Buried: 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. It was said that at age 21, her fi­an­cé, Ro­bert El­scourt, drowned the day be­fore they were to be mar­ried; how­ev­er, the de­tails of this sto­ry have been re­fut­ed. Ben­ja­min Bed­dome did ask for her hand in mar­riage, but she de­clined.

In her life­time, Steele wrote 144 hymns and 34 ver­si­fied Psalms, which were enor­mous­ly po­pu­lar. 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.



Desiring a Thankful Devotion to God

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.

Anne Steele
Poems on Subjects Chiefly Devotional, 1760



Help Needed

If you know where to get a good pic­ture of Steele (head & shoul­ders, at least 200×300 pix­els),