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Everybody loves the hymns the children sing. And that, perhaps, is the reason why Emily Huntington Miller’s name will not soon be forgotten, for the hymns she wrote were children’s hymns indeed—hymns that came from the heart of one who understood the heart of a child.

The daughter of a Methodist clergyman, Emily Huntington was born in Brooklyn, Conn., October 22, 1833. The spiritual and cultural influence of a New England parsonage was not lost on this little child, who early in life began to reveal unusual literary gifts. It was very unusual in those days for young women to attend college, but Emily enrolled at Oberlin College and graduated in the class of 1857.

Ten years later she became one of the editors of “The Little Corporal,” a very popular magazine for children. Each month she contributed a poem to this publication. Like all other contributors, she often found it difficult to have her poem ready each month on the required day. One month in 1867 she was handicapped by illness. The final day came, and her poem was not written. In spite of her weakness, she aroused herself to the task. The inspiration seemed to come immediately, and, so she tells us, “in less than fifteen minutes the hymn was written and sent away without any correction.”

The hymn referred to was “I love to hear the story.” Almost immediately it sprang into popularity. In England it 432 was admitted in 1875 to “Hymns Ancient and Modern,” the hymn-book of the Church of England. This was a very unusual honor, since very few hymns of American origin have been included in that famous collection. It is said that no one was more surprised at the popularity achieved by the hymn than the author herself.

Another of her hymns that has won a place in the hearts of the smaller children is the sweet little gem:

Jesus bids us shine

With a clear, pure light

Like a little candle

Burning in the night;

In the world is darkness,

So we must shine,

You in your small corner,

And I in mine.

Another of her hymns for children, though not so well known as the other two mentioned, possesses unusual merit:

Father, while the shadows fall,

With the twilight over all,

Deign to hear my evening prayer,

Make a little child Thy care.

Take me in Thy holy keeping

Till the morning break;

Guard me thro’ the darkness sleeping,

Bless me when I wake.

Emily Huntington became the wife of Prof. John E. Miller in 1860. After his death she became dean of the Woman’s College of Northwestern University, in which position she exerted a blessed influence over large numbers of young women. She died in 1913.

Another American woman who at this time was also 433 writing hymns for children was Mrs. Lydia Baxter. Although born at Petersburg, N. Y., September 2, 1809, it was not until nearly fifty years later that she seems to have begun to exercise her gifts as a song writer. Her “Gems by the Wayside” were published in 1855, after which she became a frequent contributor to hymn collections for Sunday schools and evangelistic services.

Mrs. Baxter may be regarded as one of the forerunners of the Gospel hymn movement of America. Her lyrics fall short of the severer standards required in a true hymn, and for this reason few of her hymns have been admitted to the authorized collections of the principal church communions. However, the woman who wrote “Take the Name of Jesus with you” and “There is a gate that stands ajar” will not soon be forgotten by pious Christians, even though the author receives scant notice at the hands of hymnologists. It is a significant fact that in 1921 the Church of Sweden included a translation of the latter hymn in the appendix to its “Psalm-book,” one of the most conservative hymn collections in Christendom. Mrs. Baxter died in New York, June 22, 1874.

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