Numerous hymns by Anne Steele appeared in a wide variety of collections and miscellanies during the eighteenth and early nineteenth century, most of them taken from the 1760 edition of Poems on Subjects Chiefly Devotional (2 vols) as well as the 1780 reprint with the additional posthumous volume, Miscellaneous Pieces in Verse and Prose. Sixty-one hymns by Steele appeared in A Collection of Hymns Adapted to Public Worship (Bristol: W. Pine, 1769) (all signed as "T." for "Theodosia"), the most popular volume of hymns among the Particular Baptists prior to John Rippon's A Selection of Hymns (London, 1787). The Bristol volume was edited by John Ash (1724-79) of Pershore and Caleb Evans (1737-91) of Bristol, two Baptist ministers with close connections to the Steele family. Evans became a friend of the Steeles in the 1750s and Ash became Williams Steele IV’s brother-in-law in 1768. A substantial number of Steele's hymns appeared in Rippon's Selection, Jeremy Belknap's Sacred Poetry consisting of Psalms and Hymns adapted to Christian Devotion in Public and Private (Boston, 1795), Andrew Kippis's and Abraham Rees's A Collection of Hymns and Psalms, for Public and Private Worship (London, 1795), Hymns Selected from the Most Approved Authors for the Use of Trinity Church, Boston (Boston, 1808), Asahel Nettleton's Village Hymns for Social Worship (New York, 1824), and William Bengo Collyer's Hymns, Partly Collected and Partly Original, designed as a Supplement to Dr. Watts’ Psalms and Hymns (London, 1812).
As tastes in poetry changed in the nineteenth century, Anne Steele's popularity declined. She is completely absent from Alexander Dyce’s Specimens of British Poetesses; Selected and Chronologically Arranged (1825) and Frederic Rowton’s The Female Poets of Great Britain (1848), but she continued to appear in hymnals and histories of the hymn throughout the century and into the twentieth century as well, such as Josiah Miller’s Singers and Songs of the Church (1869), Edwin Hatfield’s The Poets of the Church: A Series of Biographical Sketches of Hymn-Writers with Notes on their Hymns (1884), Samuel Duffield’s English Hymns: Their Authors and History (1886), Henry Burrage’s Baptist Hymn Writers And Their Hymns (1888), Louis F. Benson's The English Hymn: Its Development and Use in Worship (1915), and Albert Edward Bailey's The Gospel in Hymns: Backgrounds and Interpretations (1950). Hatfield placed Steele in the same company as Watts and Wesley as the female "Poet of the Sanctuary" (pp. 570-72), a view not shared by Bailey, who believed churchgoers in 1950 had "outgrown Miss Steele intellectually as well as emotionally," though he admits that in "our less frequent reading of the Bible we have failed to reach Miss Steele’s reverence for the greatest book ever written, or to receive from it that courage and inspiration to high action which we sorely need" (p. 71).
Several contemporary scholars have examined the hymns and poetry of Anne Steele, J. R. Watson, in The English Hymn: A Critical and Historical Study (1977). He notes her use of probing questions, which often lead to the conclusion that "God’s ways and purposes are beyond our comprehension." He sees Steele relishing in a kind of "human sensibility which is the result of an interaction between doctrine and experience. Her poems and hymns indicate a distinct movement away from the generalized view of divine providence found in Addison, and from the Christian happiness found in Doddridge" to a more "personal relationship with the Saviour, in a way which parallels the writing of her contemporary Charles Wesley" (pp. 191, 194, 198). To Richard Arnold, Steele’s poetry is marked by "an inescapable obsession with the inefficacy of language when faced with the hymnal task. The continual presence of this obsession accounts for her unique emphasis, tone, and point of view in the hymns" ("Veil of Interposing Night," pp. 371, 375). Many of the emphases found in Watson and Arnold are more fully developed in Cynthia Aalders To Express the Ineffable: The Hymns and Spirituality of Anne Steele (2008), the first book-length study of Steele’s hymns. Aalders’s contends that Steele in conflicted over her "inarticulacy" to express the "ineffability" of God and her longing to find an answer to God’s inscrutability, especially in regards to human suffering (p. 4). Steele overcame these conflicts, Aalders contends, through "a sustained hope in the midst of doubt and uncertainty," allowing "her experiences of pain to be transfigured by her resignation to God’s will" (p. 4).
For more on Steele and her hymns, see Cynthia Y. Aalders, To Express the Ineffable: The Hymns and Spirituality of Anne Steele, Studies in Baptist History and Thought, vol. 40 (Milton Keynes: Paternoster Press, 2008); Richard Arnold, "'A “Veil of Interposing Night': The Hymns of Anne Steele (1717-78)," Christian Scholar’s Review 18 (1989), pp. 371-87; Carey Bonner, "Some Baptist Hymnists," Baptist Quarterly 8 (1936-37), pp. 261-62; Sharon James, "Anne Steele 1718-78," In Trouble and in Joy: Four Women Who Lived for God (Darlington: Evangelical Press, 2003), pp. 117-64; D. M. Sale, The Hymn Writers of Hampshire (Winchester: Winton Publications, 1975), pp. 48-51; Nicholas Smith, Songs from the Hearts of Women (Chicago: A. C. McClurg & Co., 1903), pp. 8-13; and J. R. Watson, The English Hymn: A Critical and Historical Study (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977).