Helen Howarth Lemmel was born in Wardle, England to a Wesleyan Methodist pastor and his wife on November 14, 1863. As a child, she was brought to America, where she spent the remainder of her life.
Helen was well known as both a brilliant singer and musician. In her lifetime she composed over 500 hymns and poems. One day, in 1918, when Helen was aged 55, a missionary friend gave her a tract entitled “Focused.” It contained a statement that had a profound impact on her. “So then, turn your eyes upon Him, look full into His face and you will find that the things of earth will acquire a strange new dimness.”
Helen was riveted by those words. She says, “I stood still. And singing in my soul and spirit was the chorus, with not one conscious moment of putting word to word to make rhyme, or note to note to make melody.” The three stanzas of the song were added later the same week.
Those who knew Helen in her later years tell of her joy and enthusiasm. She had a small plastic keyboard by her bed. There she would play, sing and cry. “One day God is going to bless me with a great heavenly keyboard,” she’d say. “I can hardly wait!”