Annie Rebekah Smith
1828 - 1855
Annie Rebekah Smith was the best-known hymn writer in the beginning years of Adventism. A gifted writer who contributed several articles and poems to the early church's primary magazines, she is represented by ten hymns in the 1941 Church Hymnal and three in the 1985 Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal.
Smith, the only daughter of Samuel and Rebekah Smith, was one of many, including her mother and younger brother, Uriah, who were convinced that the Second Advent of Christ would occur in October 1844. When this did not happen, she pursued studies at the Charleston Female Seminary in Massachusetts, a school that offered studies in English, art, music and languages. She renewed her commitment to Adventism in 1851 after attending a series of meetings held by Joseph Bates.
Shortly after this, at age 24, she was invited by James White to assist him as copy editor of the Review, a position she held until the time of her death three years later. As demanding as he was, when White was away on travels he entrusted the editorship of the Review to her. She contributed over forty writings to the Review and another Adventist publication, the Youth's Instructor, in those three years.
Smith was attracted to John Nevins Andrews and was heartbroken when he became interested in someone else. Ellen White believed that Annie's disappointment at that turn of events led to her death shortly after, as evidenced in a letter White wrote to Andrews that cautioned him to follow through with his marriage to the other woman since "Annie's disappointment cost her her life." The Review noted that the cause of death was tuberculosis.
Ten of her hymns were used in the 1941 Church Hymnal. Adventist tradition, which lacks validation, holds that the first verse of one of 1941 hymns, "The Blessed Hope," refers to Joseph Bates and the second to James White. The three hymns using her poetry that were retained in the 1985 hymnal include "How Far from Home?" No. 439; " I Saw One Weary," No.441; and "Long Upon the Mountains, Weary," No. 447.
Sources: Ron Graybill, "Annie Smith, Her Life and Love," Review and Herald, 1 April 1976, 4-7 ( A detailed account of her life); Robert G. Wearner, "Dying Young," Adventist Review, 16 October 1997, 12,13; Christopher Ederesinghe, Singing as We Journey, 69,70; Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia, Volume 11, Second Revised Edition (Review and Herald Publishing Association 1996) 617; Wayne H. Hooper and Edward E. White, Companion to the Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal, 1988, Review and Herald Publishing Association, 14, 437-38.