Words: Henry Francis Light (b. June 1, 1793; d. Nov. 20, 1847)
Music: Ellesdie, ascribed to Wolfgang Mozart (b. Man 27, 1756; d. Dec. 5. 5, 1791)
Note: Mozart was thought to be a possible composer of the tune, but the connection has not been authenticated. The original hymn had six stanzas. Of these, CH-1, 2, 3 and 6 are commonly used today. Henry Lyte’s publication of the hymn was headed by the words, “Lo, we have left all, and have followed Thee” (Mk. 10:28, KJV).
For too many professing faith in Christ, it seems a matter of “All this and Jesus too!” They have not felt inclined to abandon anything of their former lives. Not that we earn salvation by this. We are saved by grace alone, not by how much we sacrifice to earn God’s acceptance. But too often the Lord is simply a happy addition to it all. However, that is hardly the pattern set by Christ (Lk. 9:58; II Cor. 8:9). Nor is it true to the story of the martyrs, from Stephen and James (Acts 7:59-60; 12:1-2), down to the present day.
Sadly, our secular media rarely pays much attention to Christians around the world who are suffering for their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ in the twenty-first century. However, a Christian agency called Open Doors International keeps track of what is happening, and by various means seeks to help persecuted believers worldwide. An estimated 100 million Christians, across the globe suffer arrest, interrogation, torture, imprisonment, and death. Many more are exposed to cruel discrimination, and alienation by family and friends.
When Christ becomes everything, and all is sacrificed to one’s life and service for Him, following the Lord Jesus makes a stark contrast to anything that came before. That is the sober message of this hymn. Faced with it, many would draw back in horror, and their lives would echo Paul’s sad reference to a former traveling companion: “Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world” (II Tim. 4:10).
Jesus declared, “Whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple” (Lk. 14:33). We are humbled when we see this kind of devotion played out in the lives of God’s faithful saints. Yet there’s no indication that it’s to be exceptional and unusual. Each of us only a steward of what God has given–time and talents, material things, and even relationships. And if we confess all to be truly His, then the Lord has a right to do as He pleases with His property!
CH-1) Jesus, I my cross have taken, all to leave and follow Thee.
Destitute, despised, forsaken, Thou from hence my all shall be.
Perish every fond ambition, all I’ve sought or hoped or known.
Yet how rich is my condition! God and heaven are still mine own.
CH-2) Let the world despise and leave me, they have left my Saviour, too.
Human hearts and looks deceive me; Thou art not, like man, untrue.
And while Thou shalt smile upon me, God of wisdom, love and might,
Foes may hate and friends disown me, show Thy face and all is bright.
In a stanza not commonly used today, Henry Lyte voices this abandonment of all things in strong terms. Would we be willing to sing these words?
CH-3) Go, then, earthly fame and treasure!
Come, disaster, scorn and pain!
In Thy service, pain is pleasure; with Thy favour, loss is gain.
I have called Thee, “Abba, Father”; I have set my heart on Thee:
Storms may howl, and clouds may gather, all must work for good to me.
This is one who, with Paul, could say, “Indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Phil. 3:8), asserting with confidence that when “all things” are placed in the hands of God, He will work them together for our good and His great glory (Rom. 8:28-30).
The pain and loss suffered here are small when compared to the blessings of eternity up ahead. In that sense, we should not count losses and gains with too small a measure (Acts 20:24; Rom. 8:18; II Cor. 4:16-18).
CH-6) Haste thee on from grace to glory,
Armed by faith, and winged by prayer,
Heaven’s eternal day’s before thee,
God’s own hand shall guide thee there.
Soon shall close thy earthly mission, swift shall pass thy pilgrim days;
Hope soon change to glad fruition, faith to sight, and prayer to praise.
1) What does this kind of theme have to say about our values and priorities?
2) What happens to a church or an individual when this message is rejected or ignored?