Anchors, Birthdays, and Busy Summer Days

I awoke this morning before 6:00 with words swarming through my mind from the refrain of an old hymn I’d heard many times in childhood, but I doubt I’ve heard in years.

We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love.

My mind mulled over the final phrase, “in the Savior’s love.” Then the final words to Romans chapter 8 mingled with my thoughts, “the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

How does that verse begin? Oh, yes. The connection between hymn and biblical text deepened.

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

These crescendoing verses fully awakened me, and I realized that this hymn needs to be woven into today’s blog post. Yes, I need to post today. It’s June’s last day, and I’ve not posted this month. June, seeming so threatening to me at the beginning of the month, had rolled over me like those billows. I had wondered how I would make it to July.

July 1 is a significant marker for  many companies and organizations, indicating “the beginning of the new fiscal year.”  Every year in the spring and through June we receive requests for donations, desiring contributions before that significant date of July 1.

For me, July 1 is also a significant marker. It always marks the beginning of a new year for me. It is my birthday. This year it marks 67 years. Wow. What a marker. What a sizable wave.

I need an anchor. An anchor grounded in the depths of my Savior’s love — from which nothing can separate me — not anything in life, and not even death itself.  So, the month of June could not destroy me  — nor you. We are anchored to Christ, our immovable rock.

Beauty and peace after a storm.

How does the rest of that hymn go? Who wrote it and why? After my morning routine, I pulled out my hymn history books, hymn books, and some online sources. Time to explore.

Will Your Anchor Hold?


Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,
When the clouds unfold their wings of strife?
When the strong tides lift and the cables strain,
Will your anchor drift, or firm remain?


We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love.

It is safely moored, ’twill the storm withstand,
For ’tis well secured by the Savior’s hand;
And the cables, passed from His heart to mine,
Can defy that blast, through strength divine. Refrain

Will your anchor hold in the Straits of Fear,
When the breakers roar and the reef is near?
Though the surges rave, and the wild winds blow,
Shall the angry waves then your bark o’erflow? Refrain

Will your anchor hold in the Floods of Death,
When the waters cold chill your latest breath?
On the rising tide it can never fail,
While your anchor holds within the Veil. Refrain

Will your eyes behold through the morning light
The city of gold, our harbor bright?
We shall anchor safe by the heavenly shore,
When life’s storms are past forevermore. Refrain


We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love.*

I found only the sketchiest of information about the life of the lyricist, Priscilla Jane Owens. If you have more, please share it and your source(s).  Priscilla was born in  Baltimore, Maryland in 1829 and appears to have lived her entire life there. A number of sources list the year she died as 1899, but other sources state 1907. The year, 1907, was confirmed when I found an account of her funeral through

Did she ever marry? I found no mention of marriage or family. But I did learn that she was a member of the Union Square Methodist Episcopal Church in Baltimore where she taught Sunday school for over fifty years. She wrote hymn lyrics for her students, and her poetry was published in the Methodist Protestant and the Christian Standard. What she wrote for youth belongs to all ages, and for all times.

The hymn begins with a good question, one worth asking young people, one worth asking ourselves and each other. “Will your anchor hold in the storms of life?”

My husband, Paul, after weathering a storm that tore through our property.

Follow Priscilla’s imagery, deepening and developing with each verse:

In the first verse we witness clouds, unfolding their wings of strife. Our imaginations can carry us away here. She paints “strong tides,” straining cables, a drifting anchor or a soundly moored anchor. The metaphors represent life’s stresses and tests.

She writes of the “Straits of Fear” and the “Floods of death”.   All of our troubles, worries, and uncertainties fit snuggly within this precariously tossing vessel. Our soul is the vessel. But the confidence of the hymn is that the anchor is fastened and “secured by the Savior’s hand” to the unmovable rock of God’s love, God’s virtue, that is God Himself. Moreover, “the cables” connecting me to God “passed from His heart to mine,”
so that through Him, we “can defy that blast, through strength divine.”  Wow.

Hebrews 6: 19 explains, “We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain [the veil], where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek” (ESV).

Note in the fourth verse of the hymn that it says “your anchor holds within the veil,” referencing the conclusion of Hebrews 6:19, which explains that Jesus is our high priest, and thus, our savior in every way we need saving. And we do need saving.**

Why did I awake with the chorus of this hymn in my head? I suppose it is because I do feel that my anchor is being tested and I’m being tempted to give up and give in. It is so much easier to retreat, to deny, to ignore, to curl up in my comfy home as long as possible and wait for God to take me home. I do want to escape. “Beam me aboard!” I’m weary……

Then deep in my memory, Priscilla’s old, strong song, drenched in Scripture, tugs at my spirit and strengthens me for another day, another birthday, another busy year. I’m reminded, coached, equipped, and touched. I do have an anchor for my soul. I am cabled to the tenderhearted Rock. He will not let me go, even when I feel too tired to hang on. My soul (and yours too?) is “well secured by the Savior’s hand” so “the cables, passed from His heart to mine, can defy that blast, through strength divine.”




PS: Hang on. I’m still progressing toward that podcast goal. I’m getting more help in July!




Categories: Devotional, Joy & Suffering -- Good & Evil, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Post navigation

2 thoughts on “Anchors, Birthdays, and Busy Summer Days

  1. Martin Zuidervaart

    Karen, thank you for this imagery-ladened personalization of an old hymn of faith. Your pain and its resulting weariness does not hinder your gift from God to write with such dignity and energy. My blessing over you for today are words from another familiar hymn entitled “Rock of Ages”:

    Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
    Let me hide myself in thee;

    • Karen Thomas Olsen

      Thank you, Marty, for blessing me by reminding me of the hymn, “Rock of Ages” — our only safe place and true comfort. His blessings also to you and Brenda!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: