Posted by: rcottrill | October 18, 2010

Today in 1868 – Hark the Voice of Jesus Calling written

On this date, Daniel March, a Congregational pastor, was scheduled to preach at a meeting of the Christian Association of Philadelphia. He had a great interest in the work of world missions, and his text that day was Isa. 6:8, “I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: ‘Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me.’”

When Rev. March couldn’t find a hymn to suit the theme of his message, he wrote one. Hark, the Voice of Jesus Calling not only issues a summons to evangelize the lost in other lands. It emphasizes that there is something each of us can do, wherever we are. One stanza says,

Let none hear you idly saying,
“There is nothing I can do.”
While the souls of men are dying,
And the Master calls for you;
Gladly take the task He gives;
Let His work your pleasure be;
Answer quickly when He calleth,
“Here am I; send me, send me.”

Today in 1918 – Charles Converse Died
American composer Charles Crozat Converse received his musical training at the Leipzig Conservatory, where he became friends with classical composer Franz Liszt. Returning to the United States, he studied law and set up a successful practice in Erie, Pennsylvania. He wrote many hymn tunes for William Bradbury and Ira Sankey, sometimes using the pen name Karl Reden.

Converse is known in our hymnody today as the composer of a tune he called Erie, for Joseph Scriven’s beloved What a Friend We Have in Jesus.

What a Friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer.

(2) More from Frances Havergal
There is no question Frances Ridley Havergal ranks among the best devotional hymn writers of the nineteenth century. (For a bit more about her, see the second item under Today in 1851.) Here are a couple more songs from her pen.

In 1858, when she was twenty-two, Frances went to visit relatives in Germany. One day, she came in from an excursion, weak and weary. She seated herself in the parlor to rest and, looking up, observed a large painting of Christ.

In the picture, Jesus is stripped to the waist, bound, and crowned with thorns. Pilate, is in the act gesturing toward him, calling to the boisterous crowd below, “Ecce homo!” (Behold, the Man!) Beneath the painting Miss Havergal read these words: “This have I done for thee; what hast thou done for Me?” The penetrating question stirred her heart, moving her to tears. She found a scrap of paper and a pencil, and quickly created a poem on the theme.

On her return to England, Frances Havergal re-read the words she had written. Thinking they were not worth keeping, she threw them into the fire. However, a sudden downdraft blew the scorched paper out into the room again. It was later found by her father, who read the lines and urged her to have them published. In the providence of God, that gave us our hymn, I Gave My Life for Thee.

I gave My life for thee, My precious blood I shed,
That thou might ransomed be, and quickened up from the dead
I gave, I gave My life for thee, what hast thou given for Me?
I gave, I gave My life for thee, what hast thou given for Me?

My Father’s house of light, My glory circled throne
I left for earthly night, for wanderings sad and lone;
I left, I left it all for thee, hast thou left aught for Me?
I left, I left it all for thee, hast thou left aught for Me?

Not as familar as her Lord Speak to Me (published a few years later), Frances Havergal’s Master, Speak, Thy Servant Heareth is definitely worthy of our attention. She wrote it while staying at a seaside resort on the English Channel, one Sunday evening in 1867.

Master, speak! Thy servant heareth,
Waiting for Thy gracious word,
Longing for Thy voice that cheereth;
Master! let it now be heard.
I am listening, Lord, for Thee:
What hast Thou to say to me?

Speak to me by name, O Master,
Let me know it is to me;
Speak, that I may follow faster,
With a step more firm and free,
Where the Shepherd leads the flock,
In the shadow of the rock.

Master, speak! Though least and lowest,
Let me not unheard depart;
Master, speak! For O, Thou knowest
All the yearning of my heart,
Knowest all its truest need:
Speak! and make me blest indeed.

Master, speak! and make me ready,
When Thy voice is truly heard,
With obedience glad and steady
Still to follow every word.
I am listening, Lord, for Thee:
Master, speak! O, speak to me!


  1. […] I Speak the Matchless Worth, see Today in 1738. For more on Hark, the Voice of Jesus Calling, see Today in 1868. Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken, published in 1824, was written by Henry Lyte, author also of Abide […]

  2. […] Wordwise Hymns The Cyber […]


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