Posted by: rcottrill | March 7, 2018

I Could Not Do Without Thee

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Words: Frances Ridley Havergal (b. Dec. 14, 1836; d. June 3, 1879)
Music: Ewing, by Alexander Ewing (b. Jan. 3, 1830; d. July 11, 1895)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: A true genius, and a soul-mate of American Fanny Crosby (though they never met) Frances Havergal is one of our great hymn writers, expressing a depth of devotion in rich poetic lines. Here is a sampling of what she has given us:

Another Year is Dawning
Golden Harps Are Sounding
I Am Trusting Thee, Lord Jesus
I Gave My Life for Thee
Like a River Glorious
Lord, Speak to Me
O Saviour, Precious Saviour
Standing at the Portal
Take My Life and Let It Be
True-Hearted, Whole-Hearted
Who Is on the Lord’s Side?

As to the present hymn, it was written May 7, 1873, and originally called “Jesus All in All.” The tune Ewing is also used with Jerusalem the Golden. Another tune that works well is Angel’s Story, to which we sing O Jesus, I Have Promised.

There are interesting–and sometimes strange–things people consider to be indispensable. The necessities of life, what they believe they can’t do without. One list places at the top such things as: health, family, friends, purpose, freedom, and inner peace. Good. There’s some thought given there, and some sense of what makes life most fulfilling.

In contrast, a survey taken reveals different priorities. Having an Internet connection, and a television ranked at the top, with possessing an iPhone making it into the top twenty. In the food line, coffee, chocolate and tea made the list. So did beer and wine, though lower down. Having a daily shower, and central heating, were ranked five and six respectively. Owning a car was ranked number ten.

We must ask ourselves: Are such things truly necessary for living? All of them? For everyone? Millions in our world get along without them, and seem able to live contented and productive lives. That is not to say, of course, that those living in desperate conditions due to war, or those who’ve lost everything because of a natural disaster, should accept things as they are. No, and they need our compassion and help.

But in North America, advertisers deluge us with slick and seductive promotions suggesting true happiness is found in owning the right car, or the best computer. To enjoy life, we must travel to exotic and luxurious locals on vacation, or own a big a house with a pool. To show real love to that special someone, we must give them expensive jewelry or the latest power tools.

Peer pressure could be at work there, the proverbial keeping up with the Joneses. But there’s something else. French philosopher and theologian, Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) said:

“There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of each man which cannot be satisfied by any created thing but only by God the Creator, made known through Jesus Christ.”

It is possible that the controlling addiction bedeviling western society of acquiring things and more things, involves a vain attempt to fill that vacuum with something else.

In discussing times in his life when he seemed to have an abundance, and other times when he had little, the Apostle Paul said, “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content” (Phil. 4:11). A learning process is involved, building a lifestyle, and habits, around a value system that reckons on the surpassing importance of the spiritual and the eternal.

Paul had discovered and embraced what Pascal would put into words sixteen centuries later. He says, “For to me, to live is Christ” (Phil. 1:21). “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).

Another who found abundant life in her relationship with Christ was hymn writer Frances Havergal. She came to faith in Him in December of 1850, writing to her sister, “Jesus has forgiven me, I know. He is my Saviour.” Then, years later, she read a book entitled All for Jesus, and realized the importance of a full surrender of all her life to Him.

This heart devotion is spoken of clearly in the New Testament (e.g. Rom. 12:1-2; II Cor. 4:14-15). Out of the experience, in Havergal’s life, poured a rich hymnody that blesses the people of God still. One of these songs, written in 1873, testifies to her indispensable dependence on the Lord. I only give a sample of the text here. The other stanzas can be found on the Cyber Hymnal link, and are worth reading.

CH-1) I could not do without Thee
O Saviour of the lost,
Whose precious blood redeemed me
At such tremendous cost.
Thy righteousness, Thy pardon
Thy precious blood, must be
My only hope and comfort,
My glory and my plea.

CH-3) I could not do without Thee,
For, oh, the way is long,
And I am often weary,
And sigh replaces song.
How could I do without Thee?
I do not know the way;
Thou knowest, and Thou leadest,
And wilt not let me stray.

1) Other than the Lord Jesus, what would you include on your own list of life’s “essentials”?

2) What are some things that are provided through Christ that enrich and bless your life?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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