Annie Sherwood Hawks (1835-1918) was one of four women who wrote hymns prolifically in the 19th century. It was a time when women were not given leadership in the church, when women often were home with children, and when women had little voice in the public arena. Annie wrote over 400 hymns, encouraged by her pastor who recognized her talent. This hymn was written at age 37 as she went about home tasks in Brooklyn, NY, and as she felt very strongly the presence of the Lord. She wrote about the inspiration she felt in writing this hymn.
“One day as a young wife and mother of 37 years of age, I was busy with my regular household tasks during a bright June morning [in 1872]. Suddenly, I became so filled with the sense of nearness to the Master that, wondering how one could live without Him, either in joy or pain, these words were ushered into my mind, the thought at once taking full possession of me — ‘I Need Thee Every Hour. . . .'”
It was not until years later when she lost her husband that she realized how the hymn was such a comfort to so many. Jesus promised to be with us always, in good times and in bad, even to the close of the age. This hymn captures that sense of his presence that we can experience at all times, even today.