The Sweet Story of Old

Words by Mrs. Jemima Luke Music by J. C. Englebrecht

“I think when I read that sweet story of old,
When Jesus was here among men.”




“In the year 1841 I went to the Normal Infant School in Gray's Inn Road to obtain some knowledge of the system, ”writes Mrs. Luke. ”Mary Moffat, afterwards Mrs. Livingstone, was there at the same time, and Sarah Roby, whom Mr. and Mrs. Moffat had rescued in infancy when buried alive, and had brought up with their own children. Among the marching pieces at Gray's Inn Road was a Greek air, the pathos of which took my fancy, and I searched Watts and Jane Taylor and several Sunday-school hymn-books for words to suit the measure but in vain. Having been recalled home, I went one day on some missionary business to the little town of Wellington, five miles from Taunton, in a stage-coach. It was a beautiful spring morning; it was an hour's ride, and there was no other inside passenger. On the back of an old envelope I wrote in pencil the first two of the verses now so well known, in order to teach the tune to the village school supported by my step-mother, and which it was my province to visit. The third verse was added afterward to make it a missionary hymn. My father superintended the Sunday-school in which we taught, and used to let the children choose the first hymn. One Sunday the children started their new hymn. My father turned to his younger daughters and said, 'Where did that come from? I never heard it before.' 'Oh, Jemima made it,' they replied. Next day he asked for a copy, and sent it, without my knowledge, to 'The Sunday-School Teachers' Magazine.' But for this it would probably never have appeared in print. ”Mrs. Luke adds regarding her composition: ”It was a little inspiration from above, and not ' in me,' for I have never written other verses worthy of preservation."