Posted by: rcottrill | February 19, 2018

I Gave My Life for Thee

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Also see 30+ Ideas for Promoting Hymn Singing in your church. As others have contributed ideas, this wonderful resource has grown to over 80 items now. And, for more than three dozen reasons why congregations should still use hymn books rather than merely projecting words on the wall, see The Value of Hymn Books.

Words: Frances Ridley Havergal (b. Dec. 14, 1836; d. June 3, 1879)
Music: Kenosis, by Philip Paul Bliss (b. July 9, 1838; d. Dec. 29, 1876)

Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Miss Havergal says this was the first true hymn she ever wrote. She went on to pen many more that have been a rich blessing to the people of God (I Am Trusting Thee, Lord Jesus; Like a River Glorious; Lord, Speak to Me; Take My Life, and Let It Be; Who Is on the Lord’s Side? to name just a few.)

There are many stories about our hymn writers, and the songs they wrote. They have been the subject of this blog for a number of years. The writing of the present song is described by the author herself. English hymn writer Frances Havergal received a ltter from America, asking whether she wrote the hymn. She wrote a reply.

After saying that, yes, she was the author of the hymn, Havergal goes on to speak frankly about her spiritual condition at the time. It sounds as though she was a Christian, but not as mature in the faith and as devoted to the Lord as she desired to be. She says:

“I did not half realize what I was writing about. I was following very far off, always doubting and fearing. I think I had come to Jesus with a trembling, hem-touching faith [a reference to the woman who touched the hem of Christ’s robe, Matt. 9:20-22], but it was coming in the press [the crowd] and behind, never seeing His face, or feeling sure that He loved me, though I was clear that I could not do without Him, and wanted to serve and follow Him.

I don’t know how I came to write it. I scribbled it in pencil on the back of a circular, in a few minutes, and then read it over and thought, ‘Well, this is not poetry, anyhow! I won’t go to the trouble to copy this!’ So I reached out my hand to put it into the fire! But a sudden impulse made me draw it back. I put it, crumpled and singed, into my pocket.”

A slightly different account of the rescue of this hymn from the fire is given in the first Wordwise Hymns link, though the end result was the same. One would think the author’s own words should bear more weight. But, in either case, see how the Lord confirmed to her the value of this simple song. She writes:

“Afterward I went out to see a dear old woman in an alms house [a home for the poor]. She began talking to me, as she always did, about her dear Saviour, and I thought I would see if she, a simple old woman, would care for these verses, which I felt sure nobody else would care to read.

I read them to her, and she was so delighted with them that, when I went back, I copied them out, and kept them. And now the Master has sent them out in all directions. I have seen tears while they have been sung at mission services, and I have heard of them being really a blessing to many.”

An instance of the impact of the hymn was reported some time later. At a Sunday School Convention, a strange accusation was voiced by some delegates that the organizers had somehow planned the program for their own advantage and gain. The charge caused a loud and angry debate that disrupted the proceedings. But in the chaos, a gospel singer rose and began to sing this hymn. It was as though the Lord had whispered “Peace, be still,” over their stormy and unspiritual hostility. Those present refocused on their reason for assembling, as a calm and Christlike spirit filled the auditorium to the end of the convention.

The hymn says (Christ speaking):

CH-1) I gave My life for thee,
My precious blood I shed,
That thou might ransomed be,
And raised up from the dead
I gave, I gave My life for thee,
What hast thou given for Me?

CH-3) I suffered much for thee,
More than thy tongue can tell,
Of bitterest agony,
To rescue thee from hell.
I’ve borne, I’ve borne it all for thee,
What hast thou borne for Me?

CH-4) And I have brought to thee,
Down from My home above,
Salvation full and free,
My pardon and My love;
I bring, I bring rich gifts to thee,
What hast thou brought to Me?
I bring, I bring rich gifts to thee,
What hast thou brought to Me?

It should be noted first that this is not describing the plan of salvation. It’s not as though the Lord were saying, “If only you do enough for Me, I will grant you eternal life.” The saving work of God is a free gift of His grace, received through faith in Christ, and that alone (Jn. 3:16; Eph. 2:8-9; cf. Acts 16:30-31). Rather, Frances Havergal is calling upon Christians to examine the depth of their dedication to the Lord.

“We love Him because He first loved us” (I Jn. 4:19). And the more we realize the depth of His love, love that sent Christ to Calvary to die for our sins, it will be our delight to respond in love to Him, yielding to His sovereign will all we are and have.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God [because of all He has done for you], that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Rom. 12:1).

1) What is the best way to honour the Lord for all He has done (and is doing) for us?

2) Why have some professing Christians failed to advance and grow, in their devotion and service for Christ?

Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal


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