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Words: Frances Ridley Havergal (b. Dec. 14, 1836; d. June 3, 1879)
Music: St. Petersburg, attributed to Dmitri Stepanovich Bortniansky (b. Oct. 28, 1751; d. Oct. 10, 1825)
Note: Here is another fine dedication hymn by Frances Havergal, written in 1865, for Miss Havergal’s nephew J. H. Shaw. Too many hymn book editors have chosen not to include it. And many that do use only the first three stanzas. The tune used by the Cyber Hymnal (St. Chrysostom) is a good one, but I’m more familiar with St. Petersburg (which the Cyber Hymnal page calls Wells).
The hymn is divided into two sections, originally of three stanzas each. inspired by the words of Paul, speaking of the Lord as “God, whose I am, and whom I serve” (Acts 27:23, KJV). The Bible in Basic English has, “God who is my Master and whose servant I am.” Stanzas CH-1 to 3 deal with “whose I am,” and CH-4 to 6 have to do with “whom I serve.”
There are two aspects to that right of ownership. The first is the right of creation. As the Creator of all in the universe, both material and spiritual, God has a right to do with it as He chooses. “For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever” (Rom. 11:36). “The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein” (Ps. 24:1). “In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Rightly then, “He does according to His will in the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth” (Dan. 4:35).
But for the Christian there’s a second aspect of ownership. Not only the right of creation, but the right of redemption. To the believer God says, “You were…redeemed…with the precious blood of Christ” (I Pet. 1:18-19). Purchased, as it were, out of the slave market of sin, “You are not your own, for you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (I Cor. 6:19-20).
And there’s a definite link between salvation and service. Christ, “gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works” (Tit. 2:14). God in love has saved us, through faith in Christ, and we respond in love, as willing bond-slaves of Christ (I Jn. 4:19). We have believed on–in essence, believed onto the side of, and into the employ of–the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Acts 16:31). We are twice His, by creation and redemption, and therefore His to command.
CH-1) Jesus, Master, whose I am,
Purchased Thine alone to be,
By Thy blood, O spotless Lamb,
Shed so willingly for me,
Let my heart be all Thine own,
Let me live for Thee alone.
“Other lords have long held sway,” says CH-2. It’s a reminder of the many loyalties men and women may have that need to be subjected to the supreme Lordship of Christ.
CH-2) Other lords have long held sway;
Now Thy name alone to bear,
Thy dear voice alone obey,
Is my daily, hourly prayer;
Whom have I in heaven but Thee?
Nothing else my joy can be.
“Keep me faithful, keep me near” (CH3). We each face temptations and spiritual dangers, in our pilgrimage. “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it,” says Robert Robinson in his hymn, Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.
CH-3) Jesus, Master, I am Thine;
Keep me faithful, keep me near;
Let Thy presence in me shine
All my homeward way to cheer,
Jesus, at Thy feet I fall,
O be Thou my all in all.
Once establish we belong to the Lord, and He has the rights of ownership over us, and our availability to serve, according to His will, and by the resources He provides, is a given. The latter half of the hymn deals with that.
CH-4) Jesus, Master, whom I serve,
Though so feebly and so ill,
Strengthen hand and heart and nerve
All Thy bidding to fulfil;
Open Thou mine eyes to see
All the work Thou hast for me.
CH-5) Lord, Thou needest not, I know,
Service such as I can bring,
Yet I long to prove and show
Full allegiance to my King.
Thou an honour art to me;
Let me be a praise to Thee.
1) What does the Lord’s ownership mean to you, in practical terms?
2) What service can you render to Him, today.