Words: Arabella Katherine (“Kate”) Hankey (b. Jan. 12, 1834; d. May 9, 1911)
Music: William Gustavus Fischer (b. Oct. 14, 1835; d. Aug. 13, 1912)
This is one of those beautifully simple gospel songs that conveys a great message. After writing Tell Me the Old, Old Story (for the connection between the two, see the Wordwise Hymns link), Kate Hankey penned I Love to Tell the Story. It expresses her eagerness to share the gospel with others.
In the hymn, the author gives us what we might call pragmatic and personal reasons for our witness. But there is another, overriding them both. Most fundamentally, we ought to do our part to share the gospel because Christ has commanded us to. The commission is issued in various ways in the four Gospels and in Acts. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” Jesus said (Matt. 28:19). “Go into all the world and preach the gospel” (Mk. 16:15). “You are witnesses of these things” (Lk. 24:46-48).” “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (Jn. 20:21). “And you shall be witnesses to Me” (Acts 1:8).
Added to these, Katherine Hankey gives the following reasons for sharing the good news. First, “it did so much for me” (CH-2). She speaks from personal experience of the power of the gospel in her own life. Second, “some have never heard” (CH-3). Even in countries with many Christian churches, countries flooded with Christian broadcasting, and Christian literature, there are many who still need to have the gospel explained to them. That should be a motive for our service for Christ.
The spirit of these two motives reminded me of Anna, who was privilege to see Jesus in the temple, shortly after He was born. The Bible says, “She gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem” (Lk. 2:38). Christ’s coming meant so much to her, she immediately wanted to tell others about it (cf. Jn. 1:40-42).
There is also an interesting contrast made in the hymn between the present and the future. Between what are now “unseen things above” (CH-1), and the eternal future, “when, in scenes of glory, [we] sing the new, new song.”
Paul reminds us that “the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal,” and “we walk by faith, not by sight” (II Cor. 4:18; 5:7). Through all the difficult time of leading the children of Israel through the wilderness, that is how Moses remained steadfast. “By faith…he endured as seeing Him who is invisible” (Heb. 11:27). And Peter reminds us of this temporary state of things, in our relationship with Christ: “Whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory” (I Pet. 1:8).
All of that is anticipatory of the “scenes of glory” to come. The Apostle John describing the heavenly city says, “Having the glory of God, her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal….The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb [Christ] is its light” (Rev. 21:11, 23).
And surely this provides another motivation for bearing witness to the truth of the gospel. Not only for the blessings we enjoy now, because of what Christ has done for us, but because of the glorious and eternal future He has prepared for His own. Even in the heavenly kingdom we’ll continue to worship and praise the Lamb. As Miss Hankey’s refrain says, “‘Twill be my theme in glory” (cf. Rev. 5:9-10, 12-13).
I love to tell the story of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love.
I love to tell the story, because I know ’tis true;
It satisfies my longings as nothing else can do.
I love to tell the story,
’Twill be my theme in glory,
To tell the old, old story
Of Jesus and His love.
1) What reasons do we have to share our faith, and tell what the Lord has done for us?
2) What hindrances do we face in sharing our faith? And how can these be overcome?