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366

My Jesus, I Love Thee

Full Text

1 My Jesus, I love thee, I know thou art mine;
for thee all the follies of sin I resign;
my gracious Redeemer, my Savior art thou;
if ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now.

2 I love thee because thou hast first loved me
and purchased my pardon on Calvary's tree;
I love thee for wearing the thorns on thy brow;
if ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now.

3 I'll love thee in life, I will love thee in death,
and praise thee as long as thou lendest me breath,
and say when the death dew lies cold on my brow:
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now.

4 In mansions of glory and endless delight,
I'll ever adore thee in heaven so bright;
I'll sing with the glittering crown on my brow:
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now.

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Scripture References

Further Reflections on Scripture References

The refrain presents the theme of the text: "If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now” a testimony of fervent love for the Savior, a personal love that chooses for Christ and against sin (st. 1), a thankful love for Christ's salvation, a love born in response "because he first loved us" (1 John 4:19; st. 2), and a love that leads through death (st. 3) to a vision of glory in heaven (st. 4) .

 

Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

When Christians gather in worship, they are quick to testify of their love for the Lord who loved them. First, Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 36 claims that “our new life in Christ is celebrated and nourished in the fellowship of congregations, where we praise Gods name...”

 

And we know that we are safe in Christ’s love for we will experience “endless delight” in “heaven so bright” (stanza 3). Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 22, Question and Answer 58 claims that “after this life I will have perfect blessedness such as no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no human heart has ever imagined: a blessedness in which to praise God forever.”

366

My Jesus, I Love Thee

Tune Information

Name
GORDON
Key
F Major
Meter
11.11.11.11

Recordings

Musical Suggestion

Ten years ago I would never have considered using “My Jesus I Love Thee,” or any other hymn, for that matter, in a worship service. I was music director at a church plant, and we had decided to use only contemporary music in our services. But as our children got older, we came to realize that when they visited Grandma and Grandpa’s church, they didn’t know any of the psalms and hymns being sung—songs that make up our heritage. We had lost our musical common ground. Meanwhile, at Grandma and Grandpa’s church the congregation had started to occasionally use contemporary praise songs projected on an overhead. Grandma and Grandpa complained that since printed notes were not provided, no one was singing parts anymore!
 
They had a point. In our church plant, made up largely of community people with little or no church background, the singing was poor. The worship band was great, but congregational singing was lacking. This seemed wrong. Probably one-third of our services consisted of music, and while the congregation seemed to enjoy listening, many were not actively participating. Music—the language of praise—was a foreign language to our congregation, and we had failed to teach them how to speak this language.
 
Back to our children. We realized that we wanted them to know the hymns that were so meaningful to us, and we wanted them to know how to read music well enough to sing parts. Since they weren’t learning this at school or at church, we gathered them around the piano and pounded out the parts to our favorites. I wouldn’t say that they were eager learners—we’re talking four teenage boys—but there were satisfied grins on their faces the next time they visited Grandma and Grandpa’s church and one of the songs sung was “Holy, Holy, Holy,” which they had worked on and pretty much memorized.
 
This success got us wondering if maybe the hymns could be used to teach others as well. Why choose hymns for this task? There are a few reasons. First of all, written music with four-part harmonies is readily available; we were able to find all of our favorites in one book. Many contemporary songs, on the other hand, are written for soprano, alto, and a high tenor. This excludes the lower voices from singing anything other than the melody. Second, hymns usually have a straightforward rhythm that’s not as complicated as that of most contemporary songs. While contemporary songs are a great tool for ear training, we wanted to teach more than that. Hymns provided a good starting ground. Third, hymns give us common ground with a larger body of believers and provide a generational link. Fourth, we choose hymns that are old enough to be part of the public domain—in other words, they have no copyright restrictions. That way we can provide music and recordings without the hassle of obtaining permission for use (www.cyberhymnal.org is a good resource). And finally, it’s fairly easy to attain a level of success with hymns, and once you are successful at something, it becomes fun!
 
Here’s how we do it. The worship team introduces a new hymn at the first service of each month. We offer written music for the hymn. We also provide a CD with tracks that highlight each part individually, a track with just accompaniment, and a track with accompaniment and 4-part. At our first evening service of the month, we go over the hymn with the group divided into sections, just as you would do with a choir. Whenever possible, we offer simple guitar chords and music for band instruments. We then encourage our congregation to practice in their homes (or vehicles) so that when we come together on Sunday, we are able to speak the “language of praise” with a little more fluency. We sing the hymn every Sunday during the month. On the last Sunday of the month we invite those who have practiced their instrument to bring it to the service and help out with the accompaniment.
 
A typical arrangement might look like this:
  • Stanza 1: unison singing, guitar (picked), bass, and subtle drum accompaniment
  • Stanza 2: four-part harmony, keyboard and guitar accompaniment
  • Stanza 3: four-part harmony, a cappella
  • Stanza 4: Slow tempo a little for a majestic, climactic feel. Four-part harmony with all instruments accompanying.
The instruments could repeat the hymn before or after the service, or during the offering.
(from Reformed Worship, Issue 74)
— Marie Elzinga
366

My Jesus, I Love Thee

Hymn Story/Background

William R. Featherstone wrote this beloved devotional text in 1862 in Montreal at the age of sixteen (possibly at the time of his conversion and baptism). He incorporated these phrases from an old revival hymn into his text:
 
O Jesus, my Savior! I know thou art mine.
For thee all the pleasures of earth I resign.
 
Featherstone sent "My Jesus, I Love Thee" to an aunt in Los Angeles, California, who presumably encouraged its distribution. But the text was first published anonymously in the London Hymn Book (1864), set to a now-forgotten tune. It was also published in Dwight L. Moody's Northwestern Hymn Book (1868).
 
The refrain presents the theme of the text: "If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now” a testimony of fervent love for the Savior, a personal love that chooses for Christ and against sin (st. 1), a thankful love for Christ's salvation, a love born in response "because he first loved us" (1 John 4:19; st. 2), and a love that leads through death (st. 3) to a vision of glory in heaven (st. 4) .
 
In 1870 Featherstone's text came to the attention of Adoniram J. Gordon, an evangelical preacher who was compiling a new Baptist hymnal. Because he was unhappy with the existing melody for this text, Gordon composed this tune; as he wrote, "in a moment of inspiration, a beautiful new air sang itself to me." Named for the composer, GORDON was first published in the 1876 edition of Caldwell and Gordon's The Service of Song for Baptist Churches.
 
Sing this rounded bar form (AABA) tune in harmony throughout. It is a beautiful candidate for singing with little or no accompaniment. Do not rush the long phrases.
— Bert Polman

Author Information

Very little is known about William R. Featherstone (b. Montreal, Quebec, Canada, 1846; d. Montreal, 1873). It appears that he lived in Montreal his whole life, where he was a member of the Wesleyan Methodist Church (now St. James United Church).
— Bert Polman

Composer Information

Adoniram J. Gordon (b. New Hampton, NH, 1836; d. Boston, MA, 1895) was educated at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, and Newton Theological Seminary, Newton, Massachusetts. After being ordained in 1863, he served the Baptist Church in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, and the Clarendon Street Baptist Church, Boston. A close friend of Dwight L. Moody, he promoted evangelism and edited The Service of Song for Baptist Churches (1871) as well as The Vestry Hymn and Tune Book (1872). Both Gordon College and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary are named after Gordon.
— Bert Polman
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