Rochester, New York, 1853:It is in the morning, and a young man, working by the light of a simple oil lamp, is daubing ink on an inking board.The printer straightens his back, rubs the cold out of his fingers, and prepares to work with another galley, heavy with type.But, before doing so, he hands the galley proof to 14-year-old Warren Bacheller, who was a printer’s apprentice.Bacheller runs through the dark snow-covered streets with a folder of proof sheets, until he comes to the big house on Mount Hope Road where he and his fellow workers sleep and eat.He feels his way up the dim unheated stairway and pushes the folder under a closed door of the rooms of James and Ellen White.
Before dawn, the Whites are up, carefully reading the galley proofs, correcting phrases and words before joining other members of their staff for breakfast and morning worship.
The young editorial assistant, Annie Smith, checks other galley proofs for errors.After this, the copy is hurried to the pressmen for correcting.
Who are all of these young people who are so dedicated to the printing of a paper?Some names we have never heard, but one name we do know, and we sing her songs today.That name is Annie R. Smith, the sister of Uriah Smith.
Annie Rebekah Smith was born into a Baptist family on March 16, 1828, and the family stayed in the Baptist church until they joined the Advent Awakening of 1844.Following the disappointment of that year, Annie turned her attention to teaching, oil painting, and French, and also wrote poetry for literary magazines.Her younger brother, Uriah, also turned away from religion after the disappointment.But, their godly mother, Rebekah, was so concerned for her children, and prayed for them daily.
Joseph Bates planned to hold some meetings in the nearby city of Boston during July 1851, and Rebekah encouraged Annie to attend.Just to please her mother, Annie decided to go.What neither Annie nor Joseph Bates knew, the Holy Spirit was working for Annie’s conviction and conversion.
When Joseph Bates came in the room that evening, he started looking around, as if searching for someone.Also, he was deeply impressed that the subject on which he had planned to speak was not what he was supposed to present that night, he felt he must present the 2300 day prophecy.
Shortly after he started speaking, a petite young lady slipped in and took the only vacant seat, near the back.Bates recognized her at once, for he had dreamed about her the night before, and in his dream she came in late and sat in the only vacant seat by the door.
At the close of the meeting, Joseph Bates stepped up to Miss Smith and said,”I believe this is Sister Smith’s daughter, of West Wilton.I never saw you before, but you look familiar.You see, I dreamed last night of seeing you here.”“You dreamed of me?I dreamed about you, Elder Bates!I dreamed that I arrived last at the meeting, and you were preaching a sermon about the Sanctuary and the 2300 days, with your chart.I sat in the only chair I could find, and you were explaining about the meaning of the Heavenly Sanctuary, and I knew that what you said was true!”
Annie knew that God was calling her back to what she had believed, and now she wanted to spend her life working for him. Her eyesight was too bad at first to work as a copy-editor, but she was healed through anointing and prayer after coming to Saratoga Springs.As James White’s young editorial assistant she was invaluable, with her knowledge of the use of words, spelling and grammar.She continued writing poetry, but now it was for her Lord.Some of her songs we still sing, probably the best known are “I Saw One Weary” and “How Far From Home?”
While working with the Whites at Saratoga Springs and later at Rochester, New York, Annie fell in love with the young John Andrews.It was a deep blow to her when he decided to marry Angeline Stephens.In November1854, Annie returned home sick with tuberculosis.By this time, her brother Uriah had come back to his relationship with the Lord, and was also on the editorial staff of the Review and Herald.When he came home for a visit, he prepared her songs and poems for publication, with her favorite flower, the peony, engraved for the title page.But, she knew his help was needed at the office, and when he left with the manuscript to be published, she said, “I am ready now to die,” and lived less than ten days after that.
But, what a wonderful legacy she left, especially to the Adventist people.Hearing and singing her song, “How Far From Home,” always causes me to be even more determined to “endure to the end.”