Posted by: rcottrill | December 16, 2011

Take the World, But Give Me Jesus

Words: Frances Jane (“Fanny”) Crosby (b. Mar. 24, 1820; d. Feb. 12, 1915)
Music: John Robson Sweney (b. Dec. 31, 1837; d. Apr. 10, 1899)

Wordwise Hymns (on John Sweney)
The Cyber Hymnal

Many of Fanny Crosby’s gospels songs were inspired by things that happened to her, or conversations she had, during her long life. Biographer Bernard Ruffin quotes from Miss Crosby’s book Memories of Eighty Years, concerning one such:

Fanny was talking to one of her neighbours, who complained bitterly of his poverty. “If I had wealth I would be able to do just what I wish to do; and I would be able to make an appearance [i.e. an impression] in the world.” Fanny replied, “Well, take the world, but give me Jesus.”

She later turned that comment into the present song–words that also seem to draw upon the penetrating words of the Lord Jesus, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mk. 8:36-37). The value of our “treasures” depends on who does the counting, and what kind of a measuring instrument is used (cf. Matt. 6:19-21).

One day a gem dealer attended a Gem and Mineral Show, in Arizona. At one booth, he noticed a blue-violet stone about the size and shape of a potato. “You want $15 for this?” he said to the vendor. And the seller, realizing the stone was not as pretty as others in the bin, lowered the price to $10, and made a sale. But that stone has since been certified as a 1,905-carat natural star sapphire, nearly twice the size of the next largest stone of its kind. Its worth is estimated at more than two and a quarter million dollars!

“Take the world, but give me Jesus.” Why? Because the pleasures and treasures of this world are soon going to pass away (Heb. 11:24-26; II Pet. 3:10; I Jn. 2:15-17), but “His love abideth ever” (Jn. 13:1; Rev. 1:5). As the Lord told the people of Israel, “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jer. 31:3). Nothing can compare with that! One is reminded of the oft-quoted words of missionary Jim Elliot: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

CH-1) Take the world, but give me Jesus,
All its joys are but a name;
But His love abideth ever,
Through eternal years the same.

Oh, the height and depth of mercy!
Oh, the length and breadth of love!
Oh, the fullness of redemption,
Pledge of endless life above!

One more note of interest. As you likely know, Fanny Crosby was blind. However, she not only refused to count this as a disability, but was able to testify that it gave her certain advantages. She saw things with the eyes of faith, and with a poet’s insight, that others of us so often miss. It’s not surprising that many of her gospel songs refer either to this spiritual sight, or to the joy that would be hers when the first face she sees in Glory will be that of her Saviour.

In stanza CH-3, “His constant smile” seems to be poetic imagery for Christ’s fellowship and His many blessings on her life.

CH-3) Take the world, but give me Jesus,
Let me view His constant smile;
Then throughout my pilgrim journey
Light will cheer me all the while.

1) What are the common measuring sticks many in this world use to measure the value of things in their lives–or things they wish were there?

2) What is the best way to measure the worth of these things?

Wordwise Hymns (on John Sweney)
The Cyber Hymnal


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