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Words: Albert Allen Ketchum (b. Feb. 12, 1894; d. May 21, 1982)
Music: Albert Allen Ketchum
Note: In 1923, Albert Ketchum was a student at Moody Bible Institute, in Chicago. At that time, he wrote the words and music for this simple song. He sold the rights to it to fellow student and gospel musician, Harry Clarke (1888-1957). The words express Ketchum’s love and devotion to the Saviour. As you will see, the refrain answers the “why” question, expressing his motivation.
Motivation is what moves us to a certain action or behaviour. Some actions are a result of our physical condition, or our own thoughts and feelings. Other times the factors come from the outside, our family, the culture, present circumstances, and so on.
Some motives raise more questions than they answer. In 1923, when mountain climber George Mallory was about to attempt a climb of Mount Everest, he was asked why he wanted to do it. He replied, “Because it’s there.” (Incidentally, he died on the mountain, and his body was not located for seventy-five years.) Bank robber Willie Sutton said, “I rob banks because that’s where the money is.” Baseball Hall-of-Famer Mickey Mantle said, “I have to play ball, it’s the only thing I know.”
When it comes to understanding why we do what we do, there are almost as many theories about it as there are human motives. American author Napoleon Hill distinguished ten human motives or desires: self preservation, love, fear, sex, life after death, freedom of body and mind, anger, hate, recognition or self expression, and material gain.
I’d likely add the desire to discover and learn, to see connections between things and bring order out of chaos. And what about the desire to serve God, or our fellow human beings? Further, each of us consciously or unconsciously strives to understand who we are, why we are here, and where we are heading. The evolutionist says such questions have no meaning, because our existence is merely a matter of a chance or accident. That’s a prescription for hopelessness and despair. But the Christian has a different answer.
The Bible declares, “Of Him [the Lord] and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever” (Rom. 11:36). That tells us God created us, and all that exists is (“of Him”), and He sustains His creation (“through Him”), and all of human history finds it final consummation in Him (“to Him”). The reason behind all this–God’s motivation, if you will–is His own honour and glory. “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created” (Rev. 4:11).
When sin enters the picture, this discussion gains a whole other dimension. God’s Word warns us that “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). But the Lord was unwilling to leave things that way. In love, He sent His beloved Son to effect our rescue. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son [to die on the cross], that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16).
That saving work provides a more direct and personal motivation to praise the Lord, and share the good news of the gospel with others. As the Apostle Paul put it, “The life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).
Peter speaks to those going through a time of persecution, and encourages them to stand firm for Christ, “whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory” (I Pet. 1:8).
CH-1) Deep in my heart there’s a gladness;
Jesus has saved me from sin!
Praise to His name, what a Saviour!
Cleansing without and within!
Why do I sing about Jesus?
Why is He precious to me?
He is my Lord and my Saviour,
Dying, he set me free!
CH-2) Only a glimpse of His goodness;
That was sufficient for me.
Only one look at the Saviour–
Then was my spirit set free.
1) If you had the ability to write a song in praise of the Lord Jesus, what kind of things about Him would you include?
2) What other hymns praising the Saviour are especially meaningful to you?