HYMN 236 Take My life and let it Be
Text: Frances Havergal (1836-1879). Tune: Henri Abraham César Malan, 1787-1864 Hendon
1. Take my life and let it be Consecrated, Lord, to thee. Take my moments and my days; Let them flow in endless praise, Let them flow in endless praise.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6.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.
MEDITATION I suppose you had to be there. My father had gone to a church meeting in Seattle, and someone had suggested a speaker for our Sunday evening service who had worked with the poor in a nearby city. A one woman show, she had slides, of course, and I, as my father’s AV expert, was to show them. In addition, she was to favor us with a solo, which I would accompany. She would sing this hymn to Hendon, a tune not so well known in our circles, but well known among evangelicals.
She turned out to be a character. My collection of characters is richer because of the people who came to speak at our Sunday evening services. Lots of memorable people spoke there. Some in the congregation could be offended by them, but I was always fascinated. As she spoke she snapped her fingers loudly to get me to change the slide. The snaps came at odd intervals and made me jumpy. High strung was a word we could have used. Among the many things that had happened to her in her Christian life, she told us, was that she had suffered several nervous breakdowns, but now she said, "After my THIRD nervous breakdown I was healed and since," her voice rising into the highest octave,"I haven't had a NERVE in my body." Our experience of her begged to differ; everything she said or did startled us.
Then I was asked to accompany her. She sang this hymn—a fine prayer she clearly prayed. She wanted to consecrate her life for others. She was doing so to good effect. But when she reached for the high note, it was a bit of a stretch. “And LET it be.” She made it, but the sound could have shattered glass when she got there.
As I tried to follow her tempo, my mother, little brother and sister, sat solemnly in their pew. That changed in the car. All the way home, we were singing the line, and saying I haven’t a NERVE in my body. It was truly funny. It became one of those phrases we would repeat over time. With great amusement.
There are two kinds of laughter: derisive, nasty laughter, and hearty, life affirming laughter. My parents, both, had keen senses of humor and enjoyed people and their foibles. This story did not dampen our faith at all; it simply increased our delight in the many strange and wonderful characters whom God loves. Even as she was professing no nerves, she was showing us, rather vividly, the opposite. It wasn’t hypocrisy at all, just an utter lack of self-awareness. Saints rarely think of how they come across to others. They are often difficult, odd people with one thing--God--on their mind. God gets a lot of work done through them.
The hymn defined our speaker's vocation. She wanted God to consecrate her to do good. A prayer often sung during stewardship services when people think about their contributions to the mission of Jesus, this hymn would be in full force just now in congregations around the world. Frances Havergal, one of the most gifted women writers and composers of the 19th century, knew whereof she spoke in this hymn. Nothing that we have is ours; everything is from God. Something to remember even as we huddle into the winter, its continued quarantines, darkness and storms. Maybe a strange saint will enter your life with a song. Pray it happens. It will make you richer.
HYMN INFO Frances Havergal was the daughter of an English clergyman who composed tunes for many of her texts. Her education included the languages of Europe and Greek and Hebrew. She knew Scripture well and wrote her many hymns in their light. Also a composer, she called this hymn her consecration hymn, describing its origin. She had visited Arely House where ten people were staying, not all of them confessing Christians. She knew all of them and wanted them to know her joy in the Lord, so she prayed the prayer, “Lord, give me all in the house.” It so happened, everyone in the house did give themselves to the Lord in an emotional evening. As she lay in bed, unable to sleep for joy, lines of the hymn came to her. She always sang the text to her father’s tune, Patmos, which Lutherans seem to know best.
Others use the Mozart tune, but Hendon, the tune our soloist sang, seems to be the one evangelicals prefer as you will see below.
César Malan, born in Geneva, studied theology there and became a pastor. Somewhat Unitarian, he was changed by a movement know as the Réveil which ultimately, through the work of Malan, and others, revived the Swiss church. He suffered persecution from the powers that be and was fired from his pastorate in 1816. In 1820 he built a chapel in his garden which became a place for separatists to worship. In 1841 he published a hymnal, Chants de Sion. He was in effect the father of the French Reformed hymn. (Much more should be added here; it is a long and involved story.)
LINKS Southern Seminary/Norton Hall Band https://youtu.be/U2zt7PzHPqk
Chris Tomlin https://youtu.be/agROj9nTQP4
Brian Doerksen https://youtu.be/Ma-RUB28iYE
Dennie United Methodist Church. Dee Dietz singing https://youtu.be/M1sij_uaaGw
Patmos, her father's tune, Concordia Publishing House https://youtu.be/4FHU2h1000I
THENBA/ The Mozart tune, the most popular in England https://youtu.be/Gf11rReeWIs