Posted by: rcottrill | May 20, 2013

I’ll Live for Him

Words: Ralph Erskine Hudson (b. July 12, 1843; d. June 14, 1901)
Music: C. R. Dunbar (19th century)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: This gospel song was first published in 1882. There’s no further information currently available on Dunbar. One source gives his first name as Charles, but the Cyber Hymnal lists Charles W. Dunbar as a separate individual.

Ralph Hudson worked as a male nurse in a Union hospital, during the American Civil War. He went on to serve with the Methodists as an evangelist, and a singer and song writer, as well as a compiler and editor of sacred music. He established his own publishing company in Ohio.

Most of his own songs are light repetitious fare (though not necessarily unbiblical). Further, he sometimes tinkered with great hymns of the past, giving them a new tune and a refrain. In the Wordwise Hymns link, I’ve expressed my disfavour with his transformation of Isaac Watts’ moving Alas, and Did My Saviour Bleed? into At the Cross, with its trite refrain.

The present hymn is typical of Hudson. And it’s repetition is more pronounced, not only because of the sixfold repetition of “My Saviour and My God” (counting the refrains), but because of the melody. The refrain simply reuses the tune written for the stanzas. (That’s a dozen reiterations of the musical ta-DUM-tee dum that begins each line!)

However, these things being said, the simple words of the song do express some significant truths. Perhaps, being simple, it sticks in the memory more easily (though I’d have made CH-1 the third stanza, so the progression is more logical). That is:

1) “I now believe Thou dost receive…”
2) “I’ll consecrate my life to Thee…”
3) “O may I ever faithful be…”

Consider some of the significant truths we have in this simple song.

1) Christ is the Lamb of God who died for us (Jn. 1:29). His purpose was “to save my soul and set me free” (CH-3). “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty” (Gal. 5:13).

2) He graciously receives those who come to Him in faith. “This Man receives sinners (Lk. 15:2; cf. Jn. 5:37, 44; 10:14, 16).

3) We cannot pay for grace, or it wouldn’t be grace (Rom. 4:4-5). However, the love of Christ summons a loving response in return. “We love Him because He first loved us” (I Jn. 4:10, 19; cf. Lk. 7:47).

4) Our proper response to all the Lord has done for us is to commit all we are and have to Him, and to live for Him and serve Him. “I beseech [plead with you] therefore, brethren…” (Rom. 12:1-2; cf. Eph. 4:1; I Thess. 4:1).

5) By the grace of God, we’re to walk by faith (II Cor. 5:7) and, as He enables, we can “ever faithful be” (CH-1), living out our dedication, day by day. “The life which I know live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).

6) “How happy then my life shall be” (refrain), says Hudson. I’d make it a little stronger than happiness (which is an emotional response to happen-ings). There’s abounding joy and blessing in living for Christ. His purpose in coming was so that we could have abundant life (Jn. 10:10), and we can. “The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17; cf. 15:13).

CH-1) My life, my love I give to Thee,
Thou Lamb of God who died for me;
O may I ever faithful be,
My Saviour and my God!

I’ll live for Him who died for me,
How happy then my life shall be!
I’ll live for Him who died for me,
My Saviour and my God!

CH-3) O Thou who died on Calvary,
To save my soul and make me free,
I’ll consecrate my life to Thee,
My Saviour and my God!

1) Do you see merit in using a song like this with a congregation? (If so, what are its benefits?)

2) What other dedication hymns do you know that are richer in expression and/or doctrinal depth?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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