George West Frazer

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ONE of the latest of the hymn-writers whose lives we are briefly reviewing is George West Frazer. He was born at Bally, near Sligo, Ireland, about 1830, and was one of ten children. His father was of the Lovat-Frazer family, of Inverness, Scotland, but born in Tralee, Ireland, he became police inspector in the Royal Irish Constabulary.
George was converted at the age of 20. In October, 1859, the evangelist Grattan Guinness was holding meetings in Dublin in "The Rotunda," where vast crowds attended. William, George's brother, who was a Christian, was very anxious that his brother should hear the address; but the hall was filled to overflowing and crowds blocked the entrance. George had been indifferent as to these meetings. He had just purchased a new reading lamp, and was anxious to try it; but, such is human nature that, no sooner did he find there was no room inside, than he determined to hear the preacher anyway. So leaving his lamp to his brother's keeping, he climbed the rain-leader, and reached the ledge of an upper window, where he sat with legs dangling down, amazed at the sea of faces below.
However, something more important soon attracted his attention. It was the preacher's text: "Yet there is room." Its appropriateness to himself struck him, and as he heard of God's salvation from sin and the judgment to come, George was deeply convicted of sin.
He climbed down, an unhappy young man, and determined not to rest until he had found the Savior for himself. Fourteen days and nights were spent in an anxious and miserable state. One night, after being on his knees repeatedly at his bedside and finding no relief, he determined to cease seeking, and have his fling in the world. Then came the thought that though he might forget his trouble, he still would have to face God, his sins, and eternity, and in deep anguish of spirit he cried, "If I must perish, I am resolved to perish at His feet;" and there and then he cast himself at the feet of Jesus.
He was relieved, though not yet at peace. Presently, a well-known verse of Scripture came with such force to his remembrance, that it seemed spoken to him. It was 1st Tim. 1:15: "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief." "That's just what I want; I'm a sinner, and Christ Jesus came to save such," he exclaimed.
One who knew him well, writes: "After lying awake, praising God for hours, he fell into the first sweet, refreshing sleep he had since that memorable night.
“Rising early the next morning to tell his brother the good news, the thought struck him, 'What shall I tell him?' For a moment, the peace and joy of the night before had vanished. Then he remembered, 'It was that blessed verse, 1 Tim. 1:1515This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. (1 Timothy 1:15), that gave me peace last night,' and it was just the same though his feelings had changed. He simply trusted God's Word, and with a full heart confessed Christ to his brother.
“From that time," his sister writes, "his one endeavor was that others should be brought to the Lord. He was much blessed in our family circle. In many places around Dublin he with another earnest Christian, had gospel meetings, and many were brought to the Lord." Another testifies that "he labored diligently in the Lord's service, preaching the gospel acceptably, and ministering to the Lord's people out of the Word." Some years after this, Mr. Frazer felt called of the Lord to leave his position in the bank, to give himself wholly to the ministry, and the latter years of his life were spent chiefly in visiting the assemblies in England. He finally settled at Cheltenham, thus becoming neighbor to "C. H. M.," the well-known author of "Notes on the Pentateuch.”
His hymns are among the best of recent writings; many of which have found place in modern collections. Some of the best known of them are, "'Twas on that night of deepest woe," "What rich eternal bursts of praise," whilst his own conversion is reflected in his gospel hymn, "Come! hear the gospel sound, 'Yet there is room.' They have been published in three separate volumes: "Midnight Praises"; "Day-Dawn Praises;" and, The Day-Spring.”
An inward malady eventually necessitated an operation, but from which he died January 24, 1896.
His end was triumphant as his life was "lovely and pleasant." His sister passed to the present writer the following memorials of his last hours: "On his death-bed he ceased not to proclaim Christ to all who came near him.
I heard a nurse say to him, 'You would make me wish to die and go to heaven with you.' He called his wife and me to his bed-side and said, 'I feel grieved to leave my work for the Lord, and, you, and Tillie, and all I love; but it is infinitely more to me to be with Christ' His death-bed was a scene of rejoicing. To those around him, the doctors and nurses, he said, 'What matters it about my sufferings if it is the means of bringing me to my Savior?'”
So ended that life on earth that had been for thirty-five happy years redolent with the savor of Christ. May his example incite others to a like devotion to the Lord; and may any unconverted reader learn from this account of his conversion, that peace comes only from believing with the heart what God's Word says of Christ who came into the world to save sinners; that it is not feelings, but believing the "faithful saying" of Scripture that gives assurance of salvation. Important, too, is the confession of our Savior to our immediate circle, beginning at home. And so with service; it begins in our own immediate family, as in the case of the newly-converted Frazer.
His body was laid close to that of the beloved C. H. M., with the following inscription upon his tomb-stone, which includes a stanza of his own:
IN LOVING MEMORY OF
GEORGE WEST FRAZER
Departed to be with CHRIST,
January 24, 1896, Aged 56.
His spirit now has winged its way
To those bright realms of cloudless day:
Then, mourner, cease to weep;
Far better is it thus to be,
From self, the world, and Satan free,
By Jesus put to sleep.
Our Redeemer—by George W. Frazer
'Twas on that night of deepest woe,
When darkness round did thicken,
When through deep waters Thou didst go,
And for our sins wast stricken;
Thou, Lord, didst seek that we should be
With grateful hearts rememb'ring Thee.
How deep the sorrow, who can tell,
Which was for us endured,
O Love divine, which broke the spell
Which had our hearts allured.
With heart and conscience now set free;
It is our joy to think of Thee.
O Lord, how precious is Thy thought,—
How wondrous Thy desire,
To win our hearts, once worse than naught,
Who now by grace aspire
To seek Thy glory, bear Thy shame,
To keep 'My word, and love Thy name!
We know Thee now exalted high,
Ourselves in Thee accepted;
We wait the hour which now draws nigh,
Thy coming long expected.
Till Thou dost come, we still would be
With grateful hearts rememb'ring Thee.