Posted by: rcottrill | November 8, 2013

Give Me Thy Heart

Words: Eliza Edmunds Hewitt (b. June 28, 1851; d. Apr. 24, 1920)
Music: William James Kirkpatrick (b. Feb. 27, 1838; d. Sept. 20, 1921)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Eliza Hewitt born, died)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: This invitation hymn was written in 1898 by Eliza Hewitt. The two Wordwise Hymns links will give you information on her life.

This is a Trinitarian hymn, with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit speaking in turn, in the three stanzas. The song is actually based on a misinterpreted phrase in the book of Proverbs. King Solomon is warning his son against the evils of immorality and drunkenness (Prov. 23:27-35), and he prefaces his counsel with the words:

“My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways” (Prov. 23:26).

It is the phrase “give me your heart” which is in question. The New English Bible translates: “My son, mark my words and accept my guidance with a will.” James Moffatt has, “Attend to me, my son.” The king is giving fatherly counsel, and he says, “Listen to me carefully, and follow my advice.”

Notice, first of all, that these words are not spoken by God; they are the human instruction of a parent. Second, is the sinner ever told to give his heart to the Lord? That’s an appeal we sometimes hear in evangelism. But “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately [incurably] wicked” (Jer. 17:9). God doesn’t want to take our old heart and patch it up; He wants to give us a new heart (Ezek. 26:36).

If we were to take the phrase in question as it is intended, it perhaps parallels Christ’s words of challenge, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Matt. 13:43). But Eliza Hewitt means more than that. In her mind, it’s a call to salvation. In that case, it should be separated from its biblical usage and given the sense of:

“Repent of your sin, and give Me your full trust as your Saviour, and pledge your allegiance to Me, as the One who is Lord of your life.”

The elements expressed in this suggested interpretation are all found in the hymn. There is:

CH-1. The call to faith, by God the Father, who longs for our love: “Gratefully trust Me.”

CH-1) “Give Me thy heart,” says the Father above–
No gift so precious to Him as our love;
Softly He whispers wherever thou art,
“Gratefully trust Me and give Me thy heart.”

“Give Me thy heart, give Me thy heart”–
Hear the soft whisper, wherever thou art;
From this dark world He would draw thee apart,
Speaking so tenderly, “Give Me thy heart.”

CH-2. The call to repentance, by God the Son, as we claim His death on the cross for our cleansing: “Turn now from sin.”

CH-2) “Give Me thy heart,” says the Saviour of men,
Calling in mercy again and again;
“Turn now from sin, and from evil depart.
Have I not died for thee? Give Me thy heart.”

CH-3. The call to obedience, by the Holy Spirit, recognizing God’s rule over all we are and have: “Make full surrender.”

CH-3) “Give Me thy heart,” says the Spirit divine;
“All that thou hast to My keeping resign;
Grace more abounding is Mine to impart–
Make full surrender and give Me thy heart.”

These are certainly the elements of a meaningful conversion. Fine, as long as we realize that the unsaved are, in themselves “without strength” (Rom. 5:6). There is not, in our fallen sin nature, that innate desire to seek after the Lord (Rom. 3:11). It is only by the power of God that we are able to turn and be saved (Jn. 6:44).

No matter whether we speak of being born again (Jn. 3:3), or receiving Christ (Jn. 1:12), or believing on Christ (Acts 16:31), a sovereign work of God is involved. We are saved by His grace–a freely given gift for which payment has already been made–“lest anyone should boast” (Eph. 2:8-10). As Jonah put it: “Salvation is of the Lord” (Jon. 2:9). The glory for our salvation belongs to Him alone.

Questions:
1) Given the truths discussed above, how would you explain the gospel to someone? And what would you call on him or her to do to receive God’s salvation?

2) What hymns of invitation do you feel best reflect the Bible’s appeal to sinners?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Eliza Hewitt born, died)
The Cyber Hymnal


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