Behind the Hymn: Footprints of Jesus

Mary Bridges Canedy was born on January 18, 1826 in Fall River, Massachusetts. She was the eleventh of thirteen children born to William and Susan Luther Canedy.

Mary Bridges Canedy Slade

As a young woman she married Albion King Slade and the couple had at least four children.

She was a teacher and served as assistant editor of The New England Journal of Education and editor of Wide Awake.

One resource described her as a “warm-hearted Christian woman”.

She died on April 15, 1882 in Fall River.

Little more is known about her life, other than she was a hymn writer.

She wrote a number of hymns including Who at My Door is Standing and Tell It Again, but her most popular and well known hymn is Footprints of Jesus. One source stated most of her hymns were written for Professor R. M. McIntosh, a hymn publisher.

Footprints of Jesus has also been printed as Footsteps of Jesus in some hymnals.

The original song had seven stanzas, although only four of them are commonly used today.

Asa Brooks Everett provided the melody for the hymn.

Footprints of Jesus was first published in The Amaranth, a supplemental Sunday school collection for the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, which was prepared by instruction of its General Conference of 1870 and compiled at Nashville, TN, in 1871 by Atticus G. Haygood and Rigdon McCoy McIntosh.

Note: If Fall River sounds familiar, this is the same town made famous by the 1892 Lizzie Borden murder case. Although  Mary Slade passed away ten years before this tragedy, her husband was still living in the area and was probably still serving in the pulpit {he was 69 at the time}. Albion Slade died in 1909.


Did you know the author of Footprints of Jesus had a very small connection to the infamous Lizzie Borden #hymnstory Share on X


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