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Fanny
by Lynda Schultz 
02/15/06
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FANNY
Based on the book, Frances Ridley Havergal by Esther E. Enock publishing by Pickering & Inglis in 1937.

Introduction:
This play would be suitable for the generation of those who sang, or who are still singing, the hymns that Frances Ridley Havergal wrote, or as a tool to educate people in music history. You will find a list at the end of the play, of some of the hymns that Havergal wrote during her brief lifetime. If possible, sing, or have sung, some of her hymns during the presentation.

The Players:
Narrator
Fanny as a child
Fanny as a young woman
Rev. Havergal
The first Mrs. Havergal
The second Mrs. Havergal
Miriam
Miss Cooke
Doctor
a few extras for family members

Scenery/Costumes:
Very basic, or as elaborate as you wish, and suitable for the late 1800’s.

SCENE ONE

Narrator:
She was born Frances Ridley Havergal on December 14th, 1836 at Astley Rectory where her father was minister. Fanny was the youngest of six and everyone’s favourite. Her father called her “Quicksilver” because she was so smart. At two she was speaking clearly; at three she was reading; at four she could read the Bible and write. In 1845, the family moved to Worcester. For the first time, Fanny had a room to herself and a window from which she would often watch the clouds. She wanted to climb and sit on them, at least until the day she learned that they weren’t solid at all, but only mist and rain. As a child her spiritual journey was just like the clouds she dreamed of climbing. Her thoughts about God were solid, correct. But her faith was just mist and rain.

(Fanny is in bed with eyes tightly closed, trying to focus her thoughts on God.)

Fanny:
“I’m thinking … I’m thinking … God is great. He is holy. He is powerful. He is … I wish Frank wasn’t so much stronger than I am. I could climb that tree just as fast as he can, if I really wanted to. Someday, I’ll be just as strong … Oh, (exasperated) where was I? God loves us. He sent Jesus to die. He’s …”

(Fanny turns on her side, covers her face with her hands and begins to cry.)

Fade to Black

Narrator:
“Fanny thought all the right thoughts but she knew that she didn’t really believe what she was thinking. Of course, she learned the truths of Scripture from both her mother and her father, but though she wanted to be a Christian, there was something inside that continued to resist. When Fanny’s mother lay dying, even then “Little Quicksilver” struggled to believe.”

Lights come up.

(Hallway and bedroom of Havergal’s home. On a bed, a woman lies with her eyes closed. Out in the hallway, an eleven year old girl stands with her father. They talk in a loud whisper trying not to disturb the woman on the bed.)

Fanny:
“I don’t believe it. She can’t die. She just can’t”

Father:
“Fanny, I know it’s hard for you to understand, and even more difficult to accept. But it’s the truth. There is nothing anyone can do. Your mother is in God’s hands.

(They enter the room and Fanny sits down beside her mother. The woman, sensing someone near, opens her eyes and takes Fanny’s hand.)

Mrs. Havergal:
“It’s true, Fanny, just like your father said. My only regret is leaving you so soon. You are still so young and I worry about you more than I do all the others.”

Fanny:
“Mama, I’m sure you will get well again. I just know it.

Mrs. Havergal:
“No, dear, not this time. Fanny, we’ve talked about this so often before. But now it is more important than ever. You need to love and trust Jesus for yourself. When I’m not here, you’ll need the comfort that only He can give you.”

Fanny:
“No, you will get better. You’ll see. Everything will be just like it was before you got sick.”

Mrs. Havergal:
“Yes, you’re right, Fanny. I will get better—just not here. In heaven I will be face to face with my dear Saviour. There won’t be any sickness, or sadness either. Oh, I pray, Fanny, that the Holy Spirit will guide you. I want to see you again, but only the blood of Jesus can make you clean and lovely and ready for heaven. Remember, Fanny.

Fanny:
“Yes, mama, I know. Someday. I know I’m not good, but someday … . But you’ll see me for a long time yet, right here. You won’t die—I know you won’t die.”

Mrs. Havergal: (pleading)
“Fanny, dear, pray to God to prepare you for all He is preparing for you”.

Fade to Black.

Narrator:
But Mrs. Havergal did die despite Fanny’s insistence that it wasn’t going to happen. Prior to the funeral her body lay in its coffin in the parlor. The room was dimly lit. Fanny entered on tiptoes as if afraid to disturb her mother’s rest. She looked into the coffin, into her mother’s face as if expecting her to wake up.

Lights come up.

Fanny:
“She’s only asleep. She’ll wake up soon. I’ve heard of people who were supposed to be dead and were only in a trance. She’ll wake up. She will.”

(She stands there for a moment. Then her father enters. He puts his arm around Fanny and looks down at his wife.)

Father:
“It’s time, Fanny. We have to go to the church now.”

(Fanny reaches out as if to touch her mother, then turns to look at her father. He shakes his head and then kneels down to hug her. She sits down and starts to cry.)

Fade to Black.

SCENE TWO

Narrator:
“At thirteen, Fanny went away to school. Here again she was challenged by the godly example and wisdom of her teacher. During her time at school, Fanny made friends with a young girl who was so good, gentle and kind that everyone assumed that she was a Christian. But one day, this same little girl, really did ask Jesus to be her Saviour. The joy that radiated from her, after she put her trust in Christ, overwhelmed Fanny. Two months later, Fanny was visiting her older sister, Miriam. A lady by the name of Miss Cooke was also there.”

Miss Cooke:
“Why can’t you trust yourself to Jesus, Fanny. Aren’t His promises, His invitation to you enough. Could you commit yourself to your Saviour?

Fanny:
“I think I could”.

(Fanny leaves to go to her room. She kneels by her bed and raises her face upward.)

Fanny:
“Lord Jesus, forgive my sin. I commit my soul to you. I trust you and I want to live my whole life just to please and to serve you.”

Fade to Black.

Narrator:
“In the same year that Fanny came to know Christ as her Saviour, Rev. Havergal married Caroline Cooke. This was a wonderful event for the family. Fanny went away to school, but soon returned home because of illness.”

Lights come up.

(Fanny is sitting writing a letter. She reads out loud as she writes.)

Fanny:
“I wish I weren’t as impatient as I am at hearing the news that I can’t go back to school again until after Christmas. Or maybe never. I’m so disappointed. I can’t bear the thoughts of being ignorant and falling behind all the others. But I shouldn’t complain about something that was intended to teach me a lesson that I have to learn anyway.”

Fade to Black.

Narrator:
“In spite of the delay in her formal education, Fanny and a friend read and learned the Scriptures together. She knew all the Gospels, the Epistles, Revelation, the Psalms and Isaiah by heart. In later years, she memorized the Minor Prophets. She put all that learning to good use by teaching Sunday School and being governess to two of her nieces. She had a profound influence on the children. Her oldest niece, Evelyn, died in 1868.

Lights come up as Mrs. Havergal enters.

Mrs. Havergal:
“Good morning, Fanny. You’re up early. Who are you writing to?

Fanny:
“Oh, to Marie. She sent me a memorial card from Evelyn’s funeral and I was just thinking about Evelyn and all the wonderful times we had together. I sat and looked at the card for a long time. I felt such love for her, and such sadness, too. She was so beautiful. Then, I began to think about how wonderful it will be to see her again.”

Mrs. Havergal:
“You will. After all, it was you, her beloved aunt, who lead her to the Saviour.”

Fade to Black.

SCENE THREE

Narrator:
“It was in the mid-1860’s, during a visit to Germany, that Fanny discovered how much musical talent she really had. She was encouraged to show her poetry and music to a famous composer of the time, Ferdinand Hiller. She was astonished at the praise she received from him. She could play from memory the music written by Handel, Beethoven and Mendelssohn and had a wonderful voice which made her much in demand as a soloist. But she had high standards when it came to her singing and playing.”

Lights come up.

(Fanny is speaking to her sister, Miriam.)

Fanny:
“Sometimes the joy and ability to sing and write have been so overwhelming that I have forgotten Who it was that gave me the gift to do either. That shouldn’t be. I’ve asked God that if it is a stumbling block to my spiritual growth, I want Him to take away my ability to sing.”

Miriam:
“You’ve been sick so often that it seems that God has done exactly what you asked.”

Fanny:
“Yes. But I thank Him for it. I want so much to be close to Him and to run away from anything that would keep us apart. And that is exactly what the applause of an audience has been doing. All that praise is a wonderful delusion—but it’s still a delusion.”

Miriam:
“I still think that it is sad that you haven’t been able to sing much.”

Fanny:
“Please, don’t be concerned about it. I’m happy about the loss. I love the Lord too much to allow even something that He has given me, to be used by Satan to take me away from Him.”

Fade to Black.

Narrator:
“Fanny knew that her father’s health was not good and she found herself praying the same prayer that her mother had prayed for her: ‘Prepare me for all that you are preparing for me.’ On Easter Sunday, in 1870, Rev. Havergal suffered a stroke and two days later, he died. Shortly after her father’s death, Fanny began to prepare her first hymn book. Her father had always been her greatest source of encouragement. He had been a composer himself. But at times the work was hard.”

Lights come up.

(Fanny is seated working on the book.)

Fanny:
“Here I am puzzling over a tune that papa would have had all worked out in a minute. I really miss him so much.”

(Fanny stops to think for a moment and then starts to laugh as an idea comes to her.)

Fanny:
“The Lord is my helper even when it comes to music. (shakes her head) I was so excited to be asked to sing the part of Jezebel at the Kidderminster Concert. The director said that I was the only one he trusted with the part. I just couldn’t do it. Somehow it didn’t seem right for a Christian to sing the part of such an evil woman. I need to sing what I feel and love, and what speaks a word for my Saviour. Dr. Marshall was disappointed, but I know the Lord wasn’t.”

Fade to Black.

Narrator:
“From this experience, Fanny wrote: Take my voice and let me sing always only for my King which were then added to her hymn: Take My Life And Let It Be Consecrated, Lord, To Thee. From then on, at home or traveling overseas, Fanny only sang to the glory of God. Through her ministry many unbelievers came to faith and other believers were encouraged to use their gifts in God’s service.”

SCENE FOUR

Narrator:
“In 1874, the publisher’s office where Fanny’s manuscript was being published, was destroyed by fire. She lost all her work. She would write these amazing words to her sisters …

(Lights come up with Fanny sitting at a desk writing.)

Fanny:
“Instead of finishing, I have to begin again. Every chord has to be reproduced, reexamined and revised. I don’t even have my notes. Everything had been sent to the printers. However, I see clearly that it isn’t my will, but God’s will that counts. It must be that He has more to teach me. I was in such a hurry to finish the song book so that I could get on with other things that I wanted to do. Now He is giving the opportunity to do the book over again, but with patience, and more willingly that I was doing it before. If I couldn’t rejoice in what He has brought into my life, especially when He sends me such a clear and personal message, then I would have to think that my desire to grow in Him, for His will to be done in me, was not truly real after all.”

Fade to Black.

Narrator:
“Fanny traveled as much as her health would allow, always looking for opportunities to talk about her Saviour. In 1876, she and her sister, Marie, visited Switzerland for the last time. Fanny had written a hymn in French and had copies of it made, and distributed, among the people present at the meeting. She hoped that the words of her music would fix God’s truth in their hearts and minds. During the meeting, she was heckled by a group of men sent by the local priest. The next day, Marie went to visit the priest with the excuse of having him check her sister’s French and she was able to share the Gospel with him. Fanny devoted herself to writing, to the temperance movement and in evangelism, as she visited homes and schools. But in 1879, she caught a chill from which was never to recover.”

Lights come up.

(Fanny is once more lying in her bed with the doctor and her family around her.)

Fanny:
“Don’t be sad. This simply means that I will be home that much sooner. Doctor, will it be today?”

Doctor:
“Probably.”

Fanny:
“How beautiful. It’s just too good to be true. So marvelous to be so close to heaven’s gates … so beautiful to go … so beautiful to go.”

Narrator:
“In those last hours, Fanny sang. In the middle of a song, her voice faded away and she went into the presence of the Lord. She was forty-two years old and had finished her race with joy.”

***************

Hymns by Frances Ridley Havergal

I Am Trusting Thee, Lord Jesus
Take My Life And Let It Be Consecrated, Lord to Thee
Lord, Speak To Me
I Gave My Life For Thee
Who Is On The Lord’s Side
Like a River Glorious
Another Year is Dawning
Truehearted, Wholehearted
O Saviour, Precious Saviour
Golden Harps Are Sounding
Jesus, Master, Whose I Am

Lynda Schultz©February 2006


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Member Comments
Member Date
Edy T Johnson  26 Apr 2006
Such a wonderful idea, putting this story into a play. You have given me a memory to hang on to, and I thank you.
Rachel Rudd 21 Feb 2006
I enjoyed reading this play. It would definitely be an inspirational part of a worship service accompanied with some of her music. One thing...It would probably be easier to follow the scene changes when it is acted out, but it was a bit difficult with all the changes when reading....but I'm not used to reading that many plays, either...it's been a while! Thanks for sharing!




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