Home  »  The Sacred Poets of the Nineteenth Century  »  Anna Lætitia Waring (1820–1910)

Alfred H. Miles, ed. The Sacred Poets of the Nineteenth Century. 1907.

By Critical and Biographical Essay by William Garrett Horder

Anna Lætitia Waring (1820–1910)

ANNA LÆTITIA WARING was born at Neath in Glamorganshire in 1820. She is the daughter of Elijah Waring, and niece of Samuel Miller Waring, who wrote a few hymns of merit.

In 1850 she published a little book “Hymns and Meditations,” by A. L. W., which contained nineteen hymns. This was enlarged from time to time as new editions were called for, until the tenth, issued in 1863, contained just twice as many hymns as the edition of 1850. In 1858 she published “Additional Hymns,” and in 1871 contributed verses to the Sunday Magazine. All her verse that she cares to preserve is now issued under the same title as her small collection of 1850, “Hymns and Meditations.”

Miss Waring’s last volume impresses us as the work of a writer who only wrote when moved to do so, or when she had a message to deliver. The second part of her title—“Meditations”—is best descriptive of her verse, which is more meditative than hymnic. The substance is often better than the form. Every now and then she gives us a happy thought charmingly phrased, such as—

  • “a heart at leisure from itself
  • To sooth and sympathise,”
  • so often quoted as to have become well nigh proverbial; but the value of her verse lies in its quiet thoughtfulness and a certain restfulness very precious in an age of hurry and strife like ours. The defect of her verse lies in the form rather than the substance or spirit. Here and there the accent is faulty, and this has made slight alterations necessary when her verses have been set to music. This, however, is but a slight matter, and probably arises from a want of sensitiveness to sound on the part of the writer. And yet in some few instances her verse is well nigh perfect in form, the very sound of the words being exquisitely suited to the sentiment. The best instance of this is in the following:

  • Tender mercies, on my way
  • Falling softly like the dew,
  • Sent me freshly every day,
  • I will bless THE LORD for you.
  • Though I have not all I would,
  • Though to greater bliss I go,
  • Every present gift of good
  • To Eternal Love I owe.
  • Source of all that comforts me,
  • Well of joy for which I long,
  • Let the song I sing to Thee
  • Be an everlasting song.
  • Had she attained a similar compactness and perfection of expression in her other hymns Miss Waring would have been one of the greatest of modern hymnists; but, in spite of their faultiness of form, her hymns remind one, in their quiet restfulness, of Longfellow’s well-known lines:—

  • Such songs have power to quiet
  • The restless pulse of care,
  • And come like the benediction
  • That follows after prayer.