Hymn Story: Love Lifted Me
Love Lifted Me was a joint effort of James Rowe and Howard E. Smith. The two friends wrote the hymn together.
James Rowe was born in Horrabridge, Devonshire, England in 1865. He was the son of a copper miner. James worked for the Irish government for four years, before immigrating to America. He was 24 years old when he settled in Albany, NY and went to work on the railroad for the next ten years. During this time he married and had at least one child.
After working as an inspector at the Hudson River Humane Society, he went to work for music publishers in Texas and Tennessee. James Rowe became a full time writer that composed hymns and edited music journals. Later in life he moved to Vermont to live with his daughter, an artist. Together, father and daughter wrote messages for greeting card publishers.
Rowe claimed to have written more than 19,000 song texts. Rowe and Smith wrote several hymns together, including “I Would Be Like Jesus” and “Sweeter As the Days Go By”.
Howard E. Smith suffered from arthritis so bad that his hands were terribly twisted. “According to Rowe’s daughter, Mrs. Louise Rowe Mayhew, Smith was a little man whose hands had become knotted with arthritis, but he could still play the piano.”
Love Lifted Me was written in 1912 Saugatuck, Connecticut. James Rowe wrote the lyrics and Howard Smith wrote the melody.
Rowe and Smith wrote the hymn based on the passage Peter walking on the water, becoming afraid, and crying out to the Lord to save him as he was sinking.
Smith would play a few notes and jot them down, matching them with the words Rowe was writing at the time.
According to Rowe’s daughter: “ I can see them now, my father striding up and down humming a bar or two, and Howard E. playing it and jotting it down…The two huddled together, working line by line, bar by bar, composing this hymn in tandem.”
Rowe reminds us of the “redemption from sin by our Saviour” in the first verse of this hymn. The second verse shows “the change in our walk as we owe Him our song, our service, our whole heart.” The last verse is a “witness to the loss.”
James Rowe died on November 10, 1933 in Wells, Vermont.
Howard E. Smith was born on July 16, 1863. Smith was an active musician throughout his life and served many years as an organist in Connecticut. He died in 1918.