One of my personal favorites from time spent at St. John’s Missionary Church is the hymn Hold to God’s Unchanging Hand. I can still recall the sense of being there and with emotion filled church.
The text was written by Mary Jane (Jennie) Bain Wilson, who was born on a farm at Cleveland, IN, near South Whitley, on November 13, 1856. Her father died in her infancy. When she was about four years old, an attack of spinal trouble resulted in her being rendered an invalid, confined to a wheel-chair and bed. Not being able to attend school, she studied at home, read much, and received some musical instruction. A natural love for music and poetry early in life led her to verse writing. Her earliest poems appeared in a local paper Her first hymn was entitled “All the Way,” and, not knowing of its publication, she was pleasantly surprised when it was found in new songbooks purchased by a Sunday School in her neighborhood. In 1881, she was baptized by being carried on a chair into a beautiful, tree shaded stream, and, in her words, “it gave me much joy to thus confess my dear Savior.”
Later, through the influence of a minister named Jacob D. Coverstone, Miss Wilson sent hymns to a publication in Dayton, OH. These attracted the attention of composers such as William J. Kirkpatrick and Edmund S. Lorenz, by whom she was invited to write hymns to be set to music. A prolific poet, she produced about 2,200 poems and hymn texts in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Yet, over the course of her life she never interjected sadness from her condition in her works.
Her mother died in 1902. The mother’s grave is marked by a monument bearing the following verse “After her long life journey Cometh death’s dreamless sleep; Over her rest may angels Ever a fond watch keep.” She enjoyed attending Bible conferences at nearby Winona Lake, IN, and other locations. Sometime in 1904, which is probably the year that she penned it, Miss Wilson sent “Hold to God’s Unchanging Hand” to Franklin Lycurgus Eiland.
The words of this song compare the transitory nature of this life to the eternal nature of God and heaven that we strive for in this life. https://youtu.be/navP_n3mtH0