HYMN 132 I Surrender All
Norwegian: Alt for Jesus fot jeg legger
Test: Justin Wheeler van deVenter (1855-1939) Tune: Winfield S. Wedeen (1847-1908)
1 All to Jesus I surrender, All to Him I freely give; I will ever love and trust Him, In His presence daily live. R/I surrender all, I surrender all; All to Thee, my blessed Savior, I surrender all.
2 All to Jesus I surrender, Make me, Savior, wholly Thine; Let me feel Thy Holy Spirit, Truly know that Thou art mine. R/
3 All to Jesus I surrender, Lord, I give myself to Thee; Fill me with Thy love and power, Let Thy blessing fall on me. R/
Oprah Winfrey was working out, trying to lose weight enough so she could be considered for the role of Sofie in The Color Purple. She was distraught. She had heard they would be using only trained actors for the parts. She wanted the part with everything she had. (She explains it on the link below.)
The story goes that she stopped running and began singing this hymn. She knew enough from her Scripture reading, that when we wanted something more than life, it had become an idol. So she sang the song and ran with great emotion. She gave it all over to Jesus, knowing that she should live without the part. When she got back to the center, Spielberg was on the phone asking her to take the part.
When Faith Hill was on her program once and Oprah discovered she had a passion for it too, after she told the above story, she asked her to sing it for the audience.
I have often wondered when we sing this hymn in church if everyone singing it, including me, really can say sincerely, "I surrender all"? Would we really give up everything in our lives to follow Jesus? His entire message is that we must in order to follow him. Unless we lose our lives, we will never find them. It is a truth we understand, even if we don’t want to live it.
Unless we are empty, we cannot be filled. People today, especially the young, I think, are searching for something to fill an emptiness that is crowded with stuff that will not and cannot endure. For some reason we have not been good evangelists and have not given them an attractive picture of the Christian life. Emptiness is really what people are trying to fill up with many things that cannot last. That is the truth of many of Jesus’ parables. He did not come to those who were well, they didn’t need anything, they thought, but to the sick and impoverished who were aware of their needs. Only when we are empty, can Christ’s “blessing fall on me.” Pray that your heart will be filled with the fullness of the Lord, and that you can fill someone’s heart with it as well.
The writer of the text, van DeVenter, had also struggled with his career, wondering if he should be an artist, or a Christian minister. He began teaching art in schools, but he still was struggling with his call. After a time, he decided for the ministry, and was astonished to discover he had a gift for music and hymn writing. God showed him he had a song hidden in his heart, he said, that only emerged after his choice of vocations. He understood it was after his surrender that things came clear. This hymn is the result of that discovery. He wrote a number of hymn texts, and ended up at Florida Bible Institute where Billy Graham attended. He gave van DeVenter, who had retired by that time, credit for teaching him many things about preaching and the Bible that stood him in good stead throughout his ministry. He also made the hymn a signature hymn of his evangelistic meetings in the late 1940s.
The hymn tune writer, Winfield Wedeen, a song leader and teacher, teamed up with DeVenter for many years to write music to his texts. He set the words to this tune which they published in a collection called Songs of Grace and Glory in 1896. It became popular among evangelicals and during the informal meetings of the more liturgical churches. Over time it became an important song for the black church and then the contemporary movement. In 1986 Deniece Williams won a Grammy for her performance for this song on her album So Glad to Know. It continues to be very popular on Youtube.
LINKS Oprah Winfrey and Faith Hill https://youtu.be/M-E7Qz-pWyc Deniece Williams https://youtu.be/i-bARylS9Mw
CeCe Winans https://youtu.be/6IAz9artoBw
Fountainview Academy https://youtu.be/hqQvda1Q0xk