Fanny Theodora Wigram, the daughter of Mr. Wigram's first wife Fanny, was born August 27th. 1831. Of her life we know little. She died in her 40th year from the dreaded small pox, having taken the disease from patients whom in self-sacrifice she was nursing. She took to herself literally the injunction that "We ought to lay down our lives for the brethren". She died March 4th. 1871, leaving Mr. Wigram, a lonely old man, her step-mother having died 3 to 4 years previously. Miss Wigram's well-known hymn, "Worthy of homage and of praise", (no. 195) appeared in the first edition of the Little Flock Hymn Book and must therefore have been written by her before she attained the age of 25. It is a hymn of worship and adoration, and we should have expected such a hymn to have come from an author of mature Christian experience, rather than to have been written by one so comparatively young. The second verse of the hymn may not be so well-known. It was omitted in the 3rd edition (1903) of the Little Flock:-
Now seated on Jehovah's throne,
The Lamb once slain, in glory bright;
'Tis thence Thou watchest o'er Thine own,
Guarding us through the deadly fight.
Extracts from a letter of Mr. Wigram's relating to the death of his daughter dated April 9th. 1871.
"You both have heard that it has pleased the Lord to call my child to Himself, and to have appointed the nursing of the sick poor as her chariot of fire. The last Monday in April [February? The epidemic was at the time of the marriage of the Princess Loiuse to the Marquis of Lorne. Ed.] she went, hoping to save M—, a nursemaid, from being overtaxed in nursing a case of malignant scarlet fever; on Tuesday night she felt she was ill, Wednesday was ailing but still about, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, ill, and departed at 7.30. that evening. When HE told me, Saturday, 5.30 am, "Pray not, for I take her", I said, "Not my will but Thine be done. Only enable Thou me to glorify Christ therein, so shall I neither repine nor wish her back". He has been faithful as ever, and His grace perfects itself in weakness. Sorrow is selfish, and makes us turn in on self. I know that, and know too, Who has touched me herein. But not one single thing is displaced in heaven by the Lord's loan to me through thirty-nine and a half years, being moved up there. Till she had gone, I had no idea what she was to saints, and to many of the labouring ones too. She had got quietly into work, and had grown in grace and truth perceptibly to all around her. To me the way of her departure was a great grace, not disease accidentally contracted, but in service, and in one of danger, known danger; but her mind was made up that I John 3:16 meant what it did. And grievously, too, the danger on that one occasion meant nothing compared with the other cases she had met. But the Lord's mercy is perfect. I have not the will, if I had the power, to alter one item. Thank God, I feel what He has done! But surely the Lord Jesus is welcome to the best of what He has given me, to take it back at any moment; and for herself, how much has she gained! I know many of you will sympathise with me". G.V.W.
Letters of G.V. Wigram, pp. 75 & 76.