Abide in Christ by Andrew Murray:
Background to the English Version #1.2
Andrew Murray loses his voice
In 1879, Andrew Murray started to lose his voice. While throat problems are a recurring hazard for preachers, even today, they at least have recourse to microphones. Murray, by contrast, was forced to project his voice without one.
Although he had complained of hoarseness on many occasions while on evangelistic tours, his voice had always returned. But towards the end of 1879 and well into 1880 he lost his voice completely. The ailment at the time was described as a “dropped throat.” The only solution, according to his South African doctor, was to spend extended periods in silence.
A modern-day “Desert Father” in the Karoo
As Murray knew that he wouldn’t be able to refrain from speaking while remaining at home, he retreated into the semi-desert of the Cape Karoo. Over a period of two years, he virtually became a “Desert Father.” When his imposed silence did not work, his doctor advised him to seek treatment in London. But what to do aboard ship, especially as his voice problem would prohibit him from being sociable with fellow passengers?
To understand his decision, we need to return to his time in the Karoo. Besides prayer and communing with God, he’d been writing a new work titled: Gelijk Jezus (Like Jesus), which was later published as Like Christ in 1884. (I’ll be discussing this work in our next series.)
Murray had now a decision to make: Should he complete Gelijk Jezus, or should he translate Blijf in Jezus (Abide in Christ), which had been published in 1864? He chose to do the latter. He reasoned that if he were going to England, he would try to get this book published while there.
By the time he arrived in England in mid-1882, the translation was complete. It appears that he posted it to the publishers directly after he landed because it was ready for publication a few months later.
In the meantime, he put aside visiting a medical specialist in favor of spending time at the Bethsham Home of Faith Healing, where his throat was miraculously healed after a few weeks.
Marketing the English version of Abide in Christ
What is particularly interesting about the publication of Abide in Christ is the modern way it was launched and marketed. The chapter “Day by Day” was published as a teaser in the periodical Life of Faith volume 4, 1882.
Before that date, Murray was an unknown pastor to the English-speaking Protestant world. After that date, he would become a household name amongst evangelical Christians. This would set him on a path to publishing his yet-to-be-written voluminous output in both Dutch and English.
Douglas, W.M. Andrew Murray and his Message. Fort Washington: Christian Literature Crusade, 1957.
Du Plessis, J. The Life of Andrew Murray of South Africa. London: Marshall Brothers, 1919.
© Olea Nel.