Posted by: rcottrill | February 24, 2012

Draw Me Nearer

Words: Frances Jane (“Fanny”) Crosby (b. Mar. 24, 1820; d. Feb. 12, 1915)
Music: William Howard Doane (Feb. 3, 1832; d. Dec. 23, 1915)

Wordwise Hymns (W. H. Doane)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: On Wordwise Hymns, I don’t have an article specifically on Draw Me Nearer (sometimes called I Am Thine, O Lord, using the opening line). The link to Mr. Doane will tell you a little about the composer of the tune.

Howard Doane was a frequent collaborator with Fanny Crosby, writing tunes for such still-popular hymns of hers as:

Safe in the Arms of Jesus
Rescue the Perishing
Pass Me Not, O Gentle Saviour
Saviour, More Than Life to Me
Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross

Not only did the two servants of God work together many times. They were also good friends, and Fanny greatly enjoyed visiting the Doane family in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Christian fellowship enjoyed at such times was a rich blessing for all.

It was on one such occasion in 1875 that the hymn, Draw Me Nearer, was written. They were sitting on the front porch of the Doane home, in the late afternoon, watching a beautiful sunset, described for Fanny, in her blindness, by the others. Howard Doane began to speak of a sense of the nearness of God in the still of the evening. While he was speaking, some lines of verse leaped into Fanny’s mind. She asked her friend if he’d write them down while she dictated them. The poem is our hymn. The next day, Mr. Doane composed a tune to fit.

This hymn beautifully answers the “What now?” question of the Christian life. In the opening words we have the believer’s confession: “I am Thine, O Lord.” So, what’s next? What should be the aspirations and goals of the child of God?

First (CH-1), when we come to know the Lord, by faith, there’s a desire to be in closer fellowship with Him. We say, with the psalmist, “It is good for me to draw near to God” (Ps. 73:28). So, “Let us draw near with a truth heart in full assurance of faith” (Heb. 10:22). We have this certain promise from the Word of God: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (Jas. 4:8).

In this richness of fellowship with the Lord, we will also have a desire to serve Him more effectively, and we’ll dedicate ourselves to His service, for His greater glory (CH-2). To dedicate or consecrate, in a Christian context, means to be set apart for God, to be reserved for His use. In practical terms, His will becomes our will. We will awaken with the thought expressed so simply by missionary author Elizabeth Elliot: “I have only one thing to do today–the will of God.”

In our walk with God we’ll have a growing delight in the privilege of prayer (CH-3). However, there will be an increasing sense that there is more and better yet to come, a richer fellowship in heaven than we could ever know down here (CH-4). “Now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known” (I Cor. 13:12).

CH-1) I am Thine, O Lord, I have heard Thy voice,
And it told Thy love to me;
But I long to rise in the arms of faith
And be closer drawn to Thee.

Draw me nearer, nearer blessèd Lord,
To the cross where Thou hast died.
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer blessèd Lord,
To Thy precious, bleeding side.

1) Is there something in your life, or your family’s life that it would be meaningful to specifically dedicate to the Lord? If so, how will you go about this?

2) How will the life of a dedicated Christian differ from that of one who’s lukewarm about the things of Christ?

Wordwise Hymns (W. H. Doane)
The Cyber Hymnal


  1. Beautiful write up. Blessed in knowing more about the authors of this amazing hymn. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Yet another gem by Fanny Crosby! Oh, how I would’ve liked to know her. Someday, though, we shall sing together as we BOTH gaze at our glorious Savior…

    • Interesting that you should mention that Brian. In that land of perfected praise, we’ll likely all have wonderful singing voices. But over the years, I’ve had the privilege of knowing some terrific singers–most of them not world famous, but wonderful, all the same. And I’ve thought, “I want to stand next to him in the heavenly choir!”

      As to Fanny’s blindness, she never chafed at it. In fact, she saw it as an advantage in some ways, since she felt she was better able to develop an inner sight and have increased spiritual perception. She does, however, mention a number of times in her songs the joy she anticipated of seeing her Saviour face to face. For instance, in My Saviour First of All she writes:

      I shall know my Redeemer when I reach the other side,
      And His smile will be the first to welcome me.

      And in Redeemed, How I Love to Proclaim It she says:

      I know I shall see in His beauty
      The King in whose law I delight.


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