Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Elizabeth Prentiss

Elizabeth Prentiss

“To love Christ more, is the deepest need, the constant cry of my soul…
Out in the woods and on my bed and out driving,
when I am happy and busy,
and when I am sad and idle,
the whisper keeps going up for
more love, more love, more love!”

~ Elizabeth Prentiss

Who is Elizabeth Prentiss?

She was an American author, born on October 26, 1818 in Portland, Maine. She had written many inspiring books, for a variety of ages, and all to the glory of God. Mrs. Prentiss is best known for her novel, Stepping Heavenward (which is my all time favorite fuel for staying focused on God!) as well as for writing the hymn, "More Love to Thee". 

Interesting facts about her life:
  • Her father was a Congregational pastor (who came from a long line of ministers) and revival preacher  with a puritan foundation and history.  The family gathered three times a day for prayer.
  • In 1845, she married George Lewis Prentiss who also became a pastor.  They had six children with only four that survived infancy (one child died a newborn and the other at age four).
  • The couple seemed to have had a beautiful bond in their marriage and it appears that George Lewis Prentiss was a very encouraging husband. As biographer, Marion Harland, wrote of him, "as a woman I linger pridefully upon the truth that to other qualities which challenge respect he (George Lewis Prentiss) united that rare nobility of nature that enabled him to value aright the talents of the woman he had wedded; to foster these wisely and generously, and to rejoice sincerely in her renown. The growth of their dual being into oneness and beauty was never warped or checked by jealousy of a strain we would brand as " unmanly," could we do away with the truth that that man is exceptionally magnanimous, and his self-poise phenomenally steady, who takes pleasure in bearing his wife extolled for the exercise of such powers as he believes himself to possess."
  • Her first story, "Little Susy's Six Birthdays" was published in 1853 and took her only ten days to write!
  • At 22 she wrote, "I never knew what it was to feel well." Throughout her life she struggled with many chronic health problems such as angina, insomnia and neuralgia.  Despite her many illnesses, she managed to to be a useful servant of the Lord, hoping to "do some good."
  • Quoted of Elizabeth Prentiss by biographer, Marion Harland, "Never, in all this season of toil and pain, were domestic and church duties neglected. From her well-ordered kitchen came palatable food for her own family and delicacies for the sick. Wherever sorrow and disease went she followed, as obeying a direct call from Him who pleased not Himself. She was never too busy to console the bereaved with spoken or written words; to help her children with their lessons ; to study treatises on science, metaphysics, and theology, and to have a spare hour for lighter current literature. Maternity was with her more than instinct; it was a passion, triumphing over debility, pain, and the engrossments of literary and pastoral life. "Mamma" was always, when at home, within call, and seldom so ill that she could not be referee, counsellor, and playfellow. If the suspicion of mysticism obtrudes itself upon him who reads of religious fervors too exalted for the appreciation of the average Christian, he cannot deny that the product of conflict and ecstasy was intensely practical piety. Her achievements for the good of her kind would have been remarkable for a robust woman, to whom headache and sleeplessness were strangers. In her they were simply inexplicable, unless we refer them, as she did, to ever-renewed supplies of strength from an inexhaustible Source."
  • She died in 1878 at the age of 60 and the hymn that she wrote, "More Love to Thee" was sung at her funeral.
(Web Source 1Web Source 2)

Though Mrs. Prentiss had many sorrows and sadness in her life, she focused on the love of Christ and to Christ which sustained her in all circumstances. Her writings seem to say to us, "I have been there, I have hurt, I have lost, I have regrets, but through it all, I have loved Christ! And because of this, I want to love you and you and you…" Doesn't this mentality sum up the two greatest commandments given to us?

"Much of my experience of life has cost me a great price and 
I wish to use it for strengthening and comforting other souls."


  1. I am so glad someone knows this woman! A friend of mine gave me "Stepping Heavenward" for Christmas a while ago and I grew so much from it! I read this book over and over again even more in love with it! I always wondered who Mrs.Elizabeth Prentiss was and this made me so happy thankyou!

    1. She is a gem (and one of my favorites!)! Thank you for taking the time to share! :)


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