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Words: Ellen H. Willis (no data available)
Music: James McGranahan (b. July 4, 1840; d. July 9, 1907)
Note: Nothing much is known of the author and composer of this hymn. The Cyber Hymnal lists James McGranahan as the composer of the tune, and has the song originating in 1875. But there is a version of the hymn from a year earlier–with no mention of McGranahan.
The irregular metre of the earlier version of the words was different: 10.9.9.9.184.108.40.206 as opposed to 220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168 in the Cyber Hymnal’s version with McGranahan’s tune. (If you don’t understand what is meant by these metre numbers, check out the article About That “Metrical Index.” in the Topical Articles.)
Words were added, to fit McGranahan’s different tune, and one hymn book says the song was later “arranged and adapted by WJK.” To me, those initials suggest William James Kirkpatrick (1838-1921). A comparison of the first three lines of stanza one will show how words have been added to fit another metre.
I left it all with Jesus long ago;
All my sins I brought Him, and my woe.
When by faith I saw Him on the tree…
(Cyber Hymnal’s 1875 Version)
Oh, I left it all with Jesus, long ago
All my sins I brought Him, and my woe.
When by faith I saw Him bleeding on the tree…
What I’m calling the earlier version used quite a number of different tunes through the years. But a composer that comes up several times is H. M. Warner, sometimes called Miss H. M. Warner, with the author of the text identified as Miss Ellen H. Willis–though one book has the latter as Mrs. Ellen H. Willis! Bottom line, nothing is certain here.
S ix hundred years ago they were using the expression: safe kepyng–which has evolved into safekeeping. It refers to that which is securely guarded, and cared for.
Many of us have a safety deposit box at the bank or credit union. Valuables and important documents, such as passports and wills, are given extra protection there. Those of us with computers use passwords to make it more difficult for hackers to get at our personal data. Experts warn us not to use passwords that are so obvious it would be easy to guess them. (Examples of laughably weak ones: password, or 123456.)
But even with elaborate safety measures, there are dangers. Banks are robbed, computers are hacked. Smart people design more protective measures, but there always seem to be even smarter people who find ways to circumvent them. With care–and often at some expense–we can have a reasonable assurance of security, but there is no absolute certainty that what we have guarded is completely safe.
The one exception to this uncertainty is things in God’s care. Missionary Amy Carmichael wrote, “We have proved that it is a very safe thing to trust in the Lord our God.” Pastor and author Charles Swindoll adds, “God never changes; so we are safe when we cling to Him.” David writes, “I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety” (Ps. 4:8).
The Bible has many such assurances of the watchful care and infinite protection of the Lord.
“The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them” (Ps. 34:7). “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him” (II Chron. 16:9). The psalmist testifies, “My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep” (Ps. 121:2-4).
These Old Testament texts assured the nation of Israel of God’s safekeeping in their land, if they would trust in Him. But there’s a wonderful New Testament passage guaranteeing the Christian’s spiritual and eternal safety.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (I Pet. 1:3-5).
The Lord has an inheritance reserved for us in what we might call the “safety deposit box” of heaven. We can be assured of its safekeeping and, by implication, the certainty that we will one day be able to claim it.
Miss Willis’s hymn begins by telling how, as sinners, we can entrust our sins to the Lord Jesus, who paid our debt to God, on the cross (Jn. 3:16; 5:24). Then it moves on to talk about believers putting themselves in the safekeeping of the Lord Jesus day by day (Prov. 3:5-6).
CH-1) Oh, I left it all with Jesus, long ago
All my sins I brought Him and my woe.
When by faith I saw Him bleeding on the tree;
Heard His still small whisper, ‘’Tis for thee!’
From my weary heart the burden rolled away;
Happy day! happy day!
CH-3) Oh, I leave it all with Jesus, day by day;
Faith can firmly trust Him, come what may;
Hope has dropped for aye her anchor, found her rest
In the calm, sure haven of His breast.
Love esteems it joy of heaven to abide
At His side! At His side!
1) What is the result on human beings of the uncertainty of guarantees of protection in this life?
2) What is it makes you sure that the safekeeping of the Lord is absolutely certain?