Anne Steele was born at Broughton, Hampshire, in 1717. Her father was a timber merchant, and at the same time officiated as the lay pastor of the Baptist Society at Broughton. Her mother died when she was 3. At the age of 19 she became an invalid after injuring her hip. At the age of 21 she was engaged to be married but her fiance drowned the day of the wedding. On the occasion of his death she wrote the hymn "When I survey life's varied scenes." After the death of her fiance she assisted her father with his ministry and remained single. Despite her sufferings she maintained a cheerful attitude. She published a book of poetry Poems on subjects chiefly devotional in 1760 under the pseudonym "Theodosia." The remaining works were published a… Go to person page >
Far from these narrow scenes of night. Anne Steele. [Heaven.] This hymn ranks in popularity as one of the first of Miss Steele's hymns. It was first pub. in her Poems on Subjects chiefly Devotional, 1760, vol. i. p. 157, in 11 stanzas of 4 lines, and entitled "The Promised Land." It was repeated in her Poems, &c, 1780, and in D. Sedgwick's edition of her Hymns, 1863, p. 96. In modern hymn-books it is found in various forms, ranging from 4 stanzas in the American Baptist Hymn [& Tune) Book, 1871, to 8 stanzas in the Westminster Abbey Hymn Book, 1883. It was brought into use in an abbreviated form in the Church of England through R. Conyers's Collection, 1767, and A. M. Toplady's Psalms & Hymns, 1776; and amongst Nonconformists by the Bristol Baptist Collection of Ash & Evans, 1769. In most American Unitarian collections a selection of stanzas rearranged from CM. to SM. is given, sometimes in 7 stanzas, as in Dabney's Selection of Hymns & Psalms, Andover, 1821; and again, in 5 stanzas, as in the Hymns [& Tune] Book for the Church & Home, &c, Boston, 1868.