Words: Elton Menno Roth (b. Nov. 27, 1891; d. Dec. 31, 1951)
Music: Elton Menno Roth
Note: The Wordwise Hymns link tells how this song came to be written. Amazingly, it was put to effective use within hours afterwards. That was made possible because the gospel song is simple. It has a simple message, and a lively, singable tune. But, as with many of our hymns, that doesn’t mean the author-composer was lacking in the ability to write anything more complex.
Elton Roth taught music, and wrote music. He was also a choral conductor of some note. Roth organized the Ecclesia Choir, an a capella group that specialized in presenting classical sacred music. The choir made several tours across the United States, and broadcast a nationwide program from Radio City in New York.
CH-1) I have a song that Jesus gave me,
It was sent from heav’n above;
There never was a sweeter melody,
’Tis the melody of love.
In my heart there rings a melody,
There rings a melody with heaven’s harmony;
In my heart there rings a melody,
There rings a melody of love.
The Bible says that the believer should be “making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Eph. 5:19), and “singing with grace [gratitude] in your hearts to the Lord” (Col. 3:16).
It is that heart-singing that Mr. Roth had in mind in particular. Not that it should stop there, with only inward praise. What’s in the heart should be expressed with the lips. However, not all of us are blessed with fine singing voices. It’s encouraging to realize that the Lord looks beyond that. If you’ll pardon a slight change in a verse of Scripture–that I believe is equally true:
The LORD does not [hear] as man [hears]; for man [listens to] the outward [sound], but the LORD [listens to] the heart” (I Sam. 16:7)
In confirmation of this inward focus, we have the words of the Lord Jesus: “He answered and said to them, ‘Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: This people honours Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me’” (Mk. 7:6). When that’s the case, it’s not praise; it’s pretense. Instead, the sincere joy of the Lord that floods the hearts of God’s people is to be expressed both as worship and witness.
“Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah [Think of that!]” (Ps. 62:8). “I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, and I will glorify Your name forevermore” (Ps. 86:12).
Central to our praise is the Person and redemptive work of Christ. “that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory” (Eph. 1:12).
CH-2) I love the Christ who died on Calv’ry,
For He washed my sins away;
He put within my heart a melody,
And I know it’s there to stay.
And as with many hymns and gospel songs, Elton Roth’s carries us beyond this present world, reminding us that our earthly song of praise to our Redeemer will go on in eternity. When that great day arrives, to borrow William Cowper’s words, we’ll worship “in a nobler and sweeter song.”
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honour and glory and blessing!” (Rev. 5:12).
CH-3) ’Twill be my endless theme in glory,
With the angels I will sing;
’Twill be a song with glorious harmony,
When the courts of heaven ring.
1) How can you encourage singing from the heart in your church?
2) Does “heart-singing” sound any different from singing that doesn’t arise from the heart? (How? Why?)