Marianne Hearn, Baptist Blessing

Dan Graves, MSL

Marianne Hearn, Baptist Blessing

There are some of you, who have never made a name as I have, who will be given a higher place in the Kingdom than I; but, I shall not mind, I shall be content to take the lowest place." That is what Marianne Hearn said, and she meant it. Her whole life was devoted to helping others.

Marianne (or "Polly" as she was called) was born on this day, December 17, 1834 in Farmingham, Kent, England. Her family were poor and the girl struggled to acquire an education. Partly this was because her own interest was in outdoor nature, not in books; partly it was because her godly parents would not place her in a secular school; and partly it was because she had to take over the housekeeping at twelve years of age when her mother died.

In spite of these hindrances, Marianne persevered, studying early in the morning and late at night. She began to write religious verses and had the thrill of seeing one published. From verses, Marianne branched into short articles. Eventually she became a regular contributor to the Baptist weekly Christian World and editor of the Sunday School Times. What is more, Marianne became a teacher herself.

Because she was plain looking, her father had often prayed, "Bless dear Polly and grant that she may find favor with Thee and with those with whom she may come in contact." Evidently God heard this prayer.

She was a teacher who believed in involving herself in the lives of her students and visited each of them at home every week. Although she became well-known as a hymn writer and author, a lecturer beloved by English Baptists, Marianne remained simple and approachable. Her students adored her. Everyone wanted to be around her because she took a deep delight in life and an interest in the hurts of others.

Somehow she managed her teaching duties and kept up with her literary work. She wrote under the pen-name Marianne Farningham. When her works were collected, they amounted to twenty volumes. Best known of all her writings was the hymn, "Just as I Am, Thine Own to Be."

Just as I am, Thine own to be,
Friend of the young, Who lovest me,
To consecrate myself to Thee,
O Jesus Christ, I come.

By the time she died in 1909, she was one of the most loved women in British Baptist life.

Bibliography:

  1. Brice, M. L. and Groves, A. W. "Marianne Farningham Hearn; a centenary souvenir." http://website.lineone.net/~gsward/pages/mfarningham.html
  2. Burrage, Henry S. Baptist Hymnwriters and their Hymns. Portland, Maine: Brown, Thurston and co., 1888; p206.
  3. "Marianne Hearn." http://www.cyberhymnal.org
  4. Various internet articles.

Last updated July, 2007

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