When I survey life's varied scene

When I survey life's varied scene

Author: Anne Steele (1760)
Published in 42 hymnals

Printable scores: PDF, Noteworthy Composer
Audio files: MIDI

Representative Text

I. When I survey life’s varied scene,
Amid the darkest hours,
Sweet rays of comfort shine between,
And thorns are mix'd with flowers.

II. Lord, teach me to adore thy hand,
From whence my comforts flow;
And let me in this desert land
A glimpse of Canaan know.

III. Is health and ease my happy share?
O may I bless my God;
Thy kindness let my songs declare,
And spread thy praise abroad.

IV. While such delightful gifts as these,
Are kindly dealt to me,
Be all my hours of health and ease
Devoted, Lord, to thee.

V. In griefs and pains thy sacred word,
(Dear solace of my soul!)
Celestial comforts can afford,
And all their pow'r control.

VI. When present suff'rings pain my heart,
Or future terrors rise,
And light and hope almost depart
From these dejected eyes,

VII. Thy pow'rful word supports my hope,
Sweet cordial of the mind!
And bears my fainting spirit up,
And bids me wait resign'd.

VIII. And O, whate’er of earthly bliss
Thy sov'reign hand denies,
Accepted at thy throne of grace,
Let this petition rise:

IX. “Give me a calm, a thankful heart,
From ev'ry murmur free;
The blessings of thy grace impart,
And let me live to thee.”

X. “Let the sweet hope that thou art mine,
My path of life attend;
Thy presence through my journey shine,
And bless its happy end.”

Source: Poems on Subjects Chiefly Devotional, Vol. 1 #134

Author: Anne Steele

Anne Steele was the daughter of Particular Baptist preacher and timber merchant William Steele. She spent her entire life in Broughton, Hampshire, near the southern coast of England, and devoted much of her time to writing. Some accounts of her life portray her as a lonely, melancholy invalid, but a revival of research in the last decade indicates that she had been more active and social than what was previously thought. She was theologically conversant with Dissenting ministers and "found herself at the centre of a literary circle that included family members from various generations, as well as local literati." She chose a life of singleness to focus on her craft. Before Christmas in 1742, she declined a marriage proposal from contemporar… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: When I survey life's varied scene
Author: Anne Steele (1760)
Language: English
Copyright: Public Domain


When I survey life's varied scene. Anne Steele. [Resignation.] First published in her Poems on Subjects chiefly Devotional, 1760, vol. i., p. 134, in 10 stanzas of 4 lines, and entitled "Desiring Resignation and Thankfulness," It was repeated in the new edition of her Poems, &c, 1780; and again in Sedgwick's reprint of her Hymns, 1863. As a whole it is not in common use. From it, however, the following centos are found in modern hymn-books:—
1. When I survey life's varied scene, in the Irish Church Hymnal, 1873, is composed of stanzas i., ii., viii. and ix., slightly altered.
2. Father, whate'er of earthly bliss. This was given in Toplady's Psalms & Hymns, 1776, No. 214, and thus came into use in the Church of England. From Toplady it passed into Rippon's Baptist Selection, 1787, and thence into modern Nonconformist collections. Its use is extensive. It is composed of stanzas viii., ix., slightly altered. A Latin rendering, "Quidquid optatum famulo precanti," by the Rev. R. Bingham, was published in his Hymnologia Christiana Latina, 1871.
3. Lord, teach me to adore Thy hand. No. 178, in the Scottish Presbyterian Hymnal, 1876, is composed of stanzas ii., viii., ix. and x. unaltered.
4. My God, whate'er of earthly bliss. In T. Darling's Hymns for the Church of England, 1887. It is composed of stanzas iii.-x., and a doxology not in the original.
Taking these centos together this hymn has a wider circulation than any other of Miss Steele's compositions.

--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)


NAOMI (Nägeli)

NAOMI was a melody that Lowell Mason (PHH 96) brought to the United States from Europe and arranged as a hymn tune; the arrangement was first published in the periodical Occasional Psalm and Hymn Tunes (1836). Some scholars have attributed the original melody to Johann G. Nageli (PHH 315), but there…

Go to tune page >


Composed by John B. Dykes (PHH 147), BEATITUDO was published in the revised edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern (1875), where it was set to Isaac Watts' "How Bright Those Glorious Spirits Shine." Originally a word coined by Cicero, BEATITUDO means "the condition of blessedness." Like many of Dykes's…

Go to tune page >




The Cyber Hymnal #9483
  • PDF (PDF)
  • Noteworthy Composer Score (NWC)


Instances (1 - 1 of 1)

The Cyber Hymnal #9483

Include 41 pre-1979 instances
Suggestions or corrections? Contact us