PODCAST: Take My Life, and Let It Be (History Behind the Hymns #14 with Daniel Whyte III)

Welcome to the History Behind the Hymns podcast. This is episode #14

I am your host, Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International. I am one of many Christians who still loves the old hymns of the faith even more than many modern Christian songs. For the past 33 years, my wife and children and I have sung the old hymns during our family devotion time. Over the years we have used an Independent Baptist hymn book, a National Baptist hymn book, and a Southern Baptist hymn book to sing the old hymns of the faith. And we have sung the old hymns of the faith with traditional Methodist churches online. The old hymns of the faith have been a tremendous source of blessing and encouragement to my heart down through the years. The purpose of this podcast is to encourage you to dust off your old hymn book and experience the power and blessing of well-written hymns based upon sound doctrine for the glory of God that will strengthen your faith.

The History Behind the Hymns passage of Scripture is Romans 12:1-2 which reads: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

The History Behind the Hymns quote for today is from Matt Redman. He said: “In the end, worship can never be a performance, something you’re pretending or putting on. It’s got to be an overflow of your heart…Worship is about getting personal with God, drawing close to God.”

The quote in connection to today’s hymn is from Watchman Nee. He said: “Revelation is the first step to holiness, and consecration is the second. A day must come in our lives, as definite as the day of our conversion, when we give up all right to ourselves and submit to the absolute Lordship of Jesus Christ.”

Our hymn for today is “Take My Life, and Let It Be” by Frances Havergal. It reads:

Take my life, and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee;
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.

Take my hands, and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love;
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee,
Swift and beautiful for Thee.

Take my voice, and let me sing
Always, only, for my King;
Take my lips, and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee,
Filled with messages from Thee.

Take my silver and my gold;
Not a mite would I withhold;
Take my intellect, and use
Every power as Thou shalt choose,
Every power as Thou shalt choose.

Take my will, and make it Thine;
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart; it is Thine own;
It shall be Thy royal throne,
It shall be Thy royal throne.

Take my love; my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure-store.
Take myself, and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee,
Ever, only, all for Thee.

Now here is the history behind the hymn, “Take My Life, and Let It Be”. According to Umcdiscipleship.org:

Frances Ridley Havergal has provided us with one of the classic hymns of Christian commitment.

Known as the “consecration poet,” Havergal attempted to live a life fully consecrated to Christ and to those she saw in any physical or spiritual need.

We know that Havergal’s spiritual journey began early in her life, memorizing passages in the Bible at age 4 and writing verse by age seven. She was nurtured by her father, an Anglican clergyman, also devoted to Christian hymnody.

Though Havergal’s health was frail and she lived barely 43 years, she learned several modern languages as well as Hebrew and Greek. She was also a singer of some note and known as an accomplished pianist.

We have an account in her own words concerning the composition of “Take My Life” in 1874:

“I went for a little visit of five days [to Areley House]. There were ten persons in the house, some unconverted and long prayed for, some converted, but not rejoicing Christians. He gave me the prayer, “Lord, give me all in this house!” And He just did. Before I left the house every one had got a blessing. The last night of my visit after I had retired, the governess asked me to go to the two daughters. They were crying, etc.; then and there both of them trusted and rejoiced; it was nearly midnight. I was too happy to sleep, and passed most of the night in praise and renewal of my own consecration; and these little couplets formed themselves, and chimed in my heart one after another till they finished with ‘Ever, Only, ALL for Thee!'”

This hymn of total consecration to Christ seems to cover every aspect of surrender to Him. The original text appears originally in six 4-line stanzas. In The United Methodist Hymnal, two stanzas are combined to produce three longer ones. Each line begins with the imperative verb “Take,” giving the sense of an incessant prayer of petition.

Many musical settings of this hymn are in common usage. In some, the last line is repeated, increasing the time that the singer has to reflect upon the commitment he or she is making.

The hymn appeared first in Charles Snepp’s Songs of Grace and Glory under the heading “2 Sam. 19:30. ‘Yes, let Him take all,'” according to the late Methodist hymnologist and Southern Methodist University seminary professor Fred Gealy.

Each stanza explores more deeply what it means to surrender to Christ. The first stanza consecrates the singer’s life and moments, as well as physical body — hands and feet.

The second stanza may be somewhat autobiographical in light of Havergal’s vocal abilities, consecrating her voice and lips. The stanza continues with personal possessions, silver and gold, as well as intellect.

The final stanza explores those personal attributes at the very core of one’s being — will, heart, love and self.

Often used in congregations during the stewardship emphasis, Havergal lived what she preached in her hymns. In 1878 she wrote to a friend, “The Lord has shown me another little step, and, of course, I have taken it with extreme delight. ‘Take my silver and my gold’ now means shipping off all my ornaments to the church Missionary House, including a jewel cabinet that is really fit for a countess, where all will be accepted and disposed of for me. . . . I don’t think I ever packed a box with such pleasure.”

In our next episode we will look at the history behind the hymn, “Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty” by Reginald Heber.

Let’s Pray —

Dear friend, this hymn honors God and the Lord Jesus Christ, if you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, and you want to get to know Him today here’s how.

First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Pray and ask Him to come into your heart and He will.

May God bless you and keep you until we meet again.