Posted by: rcottrill | May 13, 2019

I Love to Tell the Story

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Words: Arabella Katherine (Catherine) Hankey (b. Jan. 12, 1834; d. May 9, 1911)
Music: William Gustavus Fischer (b. Oct. 14, 1835; d. Aug. 13, 1912)

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

Note: In her early thirties, Katherine Hankey (1834-1911) developed a serious illness. In the weary days of her convalescence, to occupy her time, she wrote a long poem on the life of Christ. Our gospel song, I Love to Tell the Story, is taken from a section of it. The song Tell Me the Old, Old Story is taken from another section. If you’d like to see the entire poem, it can be found on the Cyber Hymnal link.

Story telling is an ancient tradition. It can involve either factual accounts or fictional tales. Long before television and radio, even before the invention of the printing press, stories were told. They could be shared for religious purposes, or to teach a moral lesson. Other times they were meant to inform about the news of the day, or simply to entertain those gathered to hear them.

Sometimes returning warriors, or seamen, told of wild adventures on the ocean, or in far off lands. And every culture seems to have its own myths and folklore, handed down from one generation to another. In Europe, in the Middle ages, traveling troubadours or minstrels visited the town marketplaces. There they sang songs and told stories, sharing news of what was happening in other places.

The story-teller can adapt his story to the audience before him, or create a new story to meet the need. The centuries-old Christmas carol, The First Noel, seems to be based on a troubadour song telling the story of Jesus’ birth. In the refrain, with its repeated, “Noel, Noel, Noel” we can hear his attention getting shout, “Birthday, birthday, birthday!” calling people to stop and listen to what he has to tell about a special birth.

In the Gospels, we see the Lord Jesus telling stories (parables) in various situations. About three dozen of them have been preserved for us by the four authors. The stories often had a twist, or some notable detail that made them memorable. The two best known are likely those of The Good Samaritan, and The Prodigal Son. Both, in a sense, could be called love stories, illustrating loving actions in the community and in a family.

Christ told the Good Samaritan parable (Lk. 10:30-37) in answer to a lawyer’s question, “Who is my neighbour?” (vs. 29). The Jews were ready to admit they should be kind to their Jewish neighbours, but many balked at showing concern for Gentiles or the hated Samaritans. But the Lord demonstrates that neighbourly care should cross cultural lines. It was a Samaritan, not a Jewish priest or Levite, who helped a man who’d been attacked by robbers.

In the lengthy parable of The Prodigal Son (Lk. 15:11-32), a young son demands the inheritance he would have received when his father died. After his father gave it to him, he went to a far country and wasted it all in “prodigal” living (the word means wild and reckless extravagance).

When he was starving, he decided to return home. His father’s servants were well fed. Maybe dad would hire him on as a servant. The wonderful reception he receives speaks not only of the need of forgiving love for others who’ve stumbled, but illustrates the love of God the Father for repentant sinners. “While he was still some distance off, his father saw him and his heart went out to him, and he ran and fell on his neck and kissed him” (vs. 20).

As Christians, we have a great story to tell, the greatest of all–a completely true one. It’s the story of the Saviour’s love, a love that sent Him from heaven’s glory to suffer and die, taking upon Himself the punishment for our sins. That’s a story we should love to share.

“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:6).

“Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” (I Cor. 15:3). “The Son of God… loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16).

CH-1) I love to tell the story of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love.
I love to tell the story, because I know ’tis true;
It satisfies my longings as nothing else can do.

I love to tell the story, ’twill be my theme in glory,
To tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love.

CH-2) I love to tell the story; ’tis pleasant to repeat
What seems, each time I tell it, more wonderfully sweet.
I love to tell the story, for some have never heard
The message of salvation from God’s own holy Word.

CH-3) I love to tell the story, for those who know it best
Seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest.
And when, in scenes of glory, I sing the new, new song,
’Twill be the old, old story that I have loved so long.

1) Why is it that Christians “seem hungering and thirsting to hear” the gospel story again and again?

2) No doubt we’ll be singing and hearing great music in heaven. Apparently, this will include some earthly songs (e.g. “the song of Moses” Rev. 15:3; cf. Exod. 15:1-2). What hymns and gospel songs you know do you think might be sung in heaven?

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


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