Posted by: rcottrill | September 7, 2011

More Love to Thee

Words: Elizabeth Payson Prentiss (b. Oct. 26, 1818; d. Aug. 13, 1878)
Music: William Howard Doane (b. Feb. 3, 1832; d. Dec. 23, 1915)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: The Wordwise Hymns link provides some touching background for this hymn, as it relates to the life of Elizabeth Prentiss. William H. Doane is most familiar in our hymn books for his many collaborations with Fanny Crosby.

Though it has profound spiritual depth, this is a simple hymn. (It contains only a single word of more than two syllables.) George Prentiss, Elizabeth’s husband, wrote that “she wondered not a little that, when published, it met with so much favour.” We can appreciate her humility, but there are some deep thoughts, here.

CH-1) More love to Thee, O Christ, more love to Thee!
Hear Thou the prayer I make on bended knee.
This is my earnest plea: More love, O Christ, to Thee;
More love to Thee, more love to Thee!

The Lord Jesus said: “‘Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment” (Mk. 12:30). And Paul prayed for the Philippian Christians that their love would continue to grow:

“This I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Phil. 1:9-11).

Many qualities are enveloped in this love (agape, in Greek). Directed Godward, it’s expressed in spiritual discernment, and obedience (Jn. 14:21; I Jn. 2:5-6). When it’s show to others (cf. Mk. 12:31), it will involve the sacrificial giving of ourselves for their good and blessing. Since Christ presents Himself as the model of such love (Jn. 13:34), it can be best summed up by the term Christlikeness.

In ourselves, love for God (and for others) is not a natural thing. The sin nature tends to produce a love that is centred on self and controlled by self interest. And it will get worse, as time goes on. “In the last days…men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money…lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (II Tim. 3:1-2, 4). Mrs. Prentiss recognized the root of that selfish love in her own heart, and repudiated it.

CH-2) Once earthly joy I craved, sought peace and rest;
Now Thee alone I seek, give what is best.

When we’re saved, “the love of God [is] poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom. 5:5). But, even so, it’s not lived out automatically. It comes as the Spirit continues His work in us. “The fruit of the Spirit is love” (Gal. 5:22).

At times, the Lord will allow trials and troubles to touch our lives for the purpose of weaning us away from a love of other things, lesser and unworthy things that could crowd Him out. It happened to Elizabeth Prentisss. And because of her passion to love Christ more, the author welcomes those things that bring pain and sorrow, if they will only deepen her love for Him.

CH-3) Let sorrow do its work, come grief or pain;
Sweet are Thy messengers, sweet their refrain,
When they can sing with me: More love, O Christ, to Thee;
More love to Thee, more love to Thee!

The love of which this hymn speaks won’t end at death. It is an eternal quality. “Love never fails” (I Cor. 13:8).

CH-4) Then shall my latest breath whisper Thy praise;
This be the parting cry my heart shall raise;
This still its prayer shall be: More love, O Christ to Thee;
More love to Thee, more love to Thee!

Questions:
1) What are some hindrances to Christian’s loving the Lord in this impassioned way?

2) Can you list some of the qualities that true Christian love will have?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


Responses

  1. This hymn really spoke to me this morning. Please pray for me as I have been going through dark days just recently and I now face surgery in 2 weeks time. I am trusting the Lord with my life, my all and look on this walk down a dark path as an opportunity to reach others with the love of the Lord Jesus Christ, who loved us and gave Himself for us.

    • Thank you so much for sharing. I’m praying that the Lord will show His tender mercy to you during these dark days, and bring you through to the sunshine again. I also pray that you’ll be encouraged by a sense of His presence with you, through all that’s ahead.


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