Posted by: rcottrill | March 27, 2013

Now I Belong to Jesus

Words: Norman John Clayton (b. Jan. 22, 1903; d. June 1, 1992)
Music: Ellsworth, by Norman John Clayton

Wordwise Hymns (Norman Clayton)
The Cyber Hymnal (Norman Clayton)

Note: Mr. Clayton composed the tune Ellsworth in 1942, and wrote the words for this fine gospel song a year later. He made it a lifelong practice to memorize Scripture and tried, each time he wrote the words of a song, to be sure that its message was clearly biblical. Clayton wrote hundreds of hymns (97 of them are listed in the Cyber Hymnal).

The Lord Jesus Christ, on the cross of Calvary, gave His life as a ransom; He paid the price to free those in bondage to sin and destined for a lost eternity. “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mk. 10:45). “[He] gave Himself a ransom for all” (I Tim. 2:6). And when we put our faith in Christ, our security in His love is absolute. As the song says, “From Him no pow’r of evil can sever” (cf. Rom. 8:35-39).

1) Jesus my Lord will love me forever,
From Him no pow’r of evil can sever,
He gave His life to ransom my soul,
Now I belong to Him.

Now I belong to
Jesus, Jesus belongs to me,
Not for the years of time alone,
But for eternity.

Rightly does the song speak (in the second stanza) of “sin’s degradation,” and its “sorrow and shame,” then in the final stanza of “sin that long had enslaved me.” This is true of sin in the life of each of us. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). But there are certain ones in whom the depths of degradation are lived out to a fuller extent. Lindsay Terry, in his book Stories Behind Popular Songs and Hymns (Baker Book House, 1990) recounts a moving story about one occasion when this song was used which such individuals.

Briefly, it concerns a missionary named Roy Gustatson who was invited to minister at a notorious prison in Jamaica. He sang and preached the gospel that day to a thousand men. But then, a guard asked if he’d meet with a small group of condemned prisoners who were to go to the gallows in a couple of days. The consciousness that this would be the last time these men would hear the gospel gripped him.

To these men, starkly facing a Christless eternity, Roy gave his personal testimony, and sang Norman Clayton’s song, Now I Belong to Jesus. One pitiful wretch, squatting on the floor before him, was a condemned killer. He said, “I’m going to die on Tuesday morning, sir. Can I be saved?” Adding sadly, “I can’t read.”

When Roy Gustatson read him some salvation verses from the Word of God, the man bowed his face to the dirt floor sobbing, and called on the Lord to save him. Then, smiling through his tears, he asked for Clayton’s song to be sung again and, with some help, he sang along. As the guard let the evangelist out of the prison, he looked back and saw the man, waving his arms through the bars, still singing, “Now I belong to Jesus, Jesus belongs to me, / Not for the years of time alone, / But for eternity.”

3) Joy floods my soul for Jesus has saved me,
Freed me from sin that long had enslaved me,
His precious blood He gave to redeem,
Now I belong to Him.

1) Does this song express your own experience? On what do you base your eternal safety as a Christian?

2) Not all conversions are as dramatic as this one! But did you (or someone you know) experience a striking and obvious change at the time of salvation?

Wordwise Hymns (Norman Clayton)
The Cyber Hymnal (Norman Clayton)


  1. Reblogged this on Campus Bible Fellowship – UPV and commented:
    You may be in the bondage of sin, but when Christ comes into you, you can sing “Now I belong to Jesus, Jesus belongs to me, / Not for the years of time alone, / But for eternity.”

  2. Reblogged this on James1948's Blog and commented:
    A touching story. A doctrinal song that can influence lives


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