Brown, Phoebe Hinsdale, was the daughter
of George Hinsdale, and was born May 1,
1783, at Canaan, N. Y. Being left an orphan
and moneyless when only two years
of age, her early life was one of want,
hardship, and drudgery. When nine years
of age she went to live with a relative who
kept a county jail. "These were years of
intense and cruel suffering," says her son.
"The tale of her early life which she has
left her children is a narrative of such
deprivations, toil, and cruel treatment as it
breaks my heart to read." Not until she
was eighteen years of age did she escape
from this bondage and find a home among
kind and sympathetic people. Her education
was limited to three months in the
public school at Claverack, N. Y., where
she learned to write. She made at this
time a profession of faith in Christ and
joined the Congregational Church. She did
not improve her worldly fortune when, in
1805, she married Thomas H. Brown, a
journeyman house painter, after which she
lived successively at East Windsor and Ellington,
Conn., Monson, Mass., and at Marshall,
Ill., where she died October 10, 1861.
"Despite all her disadvantages," says Prof.
F. M. Bird in Julian's Dictionary, "Mrs.
Brown's talents and work are superior to
those of any other early female hymnist of
America." Fifteen of her hymns have
found a place in the different Church hymnals
of America, though only one is given
a place in this collection--her famous
"Twilight Hymn," the origin of which is
deeply interesting. The "little ones" to
whom she referred in this hymn all became
eminent for piety and usefulness.
|I love to steal awhile away