We Give Thee but Thine Own

Full Text

1 We give thee but thine own,
whate'er the gift may be;
all that we have is thine alone,
a trust, O Lord from thee.

2 May we thy bounties thus
as stewards true receive,
and gladly, as thou blessest us,
to thee our first fruits give.

3 To comfort and to bless,
to find a balm for woe,
to tend the lonely in distress,
is angels' work below.

4 The captive to release,
to God the lost to bring,
to teach the way of life and peace–
it is a Christlike thing.

5 And we believe thy Word,
though dim our faith may be;
whate'er for thine we do, O Lord,
we do it unto thee.

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Scripture References

Thematically related:

Further Reflections on Scripture References

“We Give Thee But Thine” is a hymn about stewardship, about bringing our gifts to be used for the church's ministry of word and deed to needy people–in other Words, our ministry for Christ. Like Psalm 50 and Isaiah 1, this text declares that everything in creation already belongs to God and that what we give and what we keep are all to be used gratefully in God's service (st. 5).


Bert Polman, Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

When we sing about the offering of our gifts, we quickly find several thoughts interwoven with each other. The first is the foundational thought that God’s generosity in Christ has brought us salvation and all good things in life. God has “created heaven and earth and all other creatures from nothing” (Belgic Confession, Article 12) and he continues to “provide whatever I need in body and soul” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 9, Question and Answer 26). But God’s greatest act of generosity is shown in the gift of his Son “by a most perfect love” (Belgic Confession, Article 20) through whom we find the forgiveness of our sins and eternal life.


God’s children are called to be compassionately concerned for other humans and their needs, a call which expresses our obedience in living out our baptism. The Belhar Confession, Section 2 points out that the unity of the people of God is manifested as we love one another, know and share one another’s burdens and suffer with one another. Later, the Belhar Confession, Section 4 says, “God brings justice to the oppressed and gives bread to the hungry…supports the downtrodden…helps widows and orphans…” among other things, and we are to follow him in these actions. Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 11 calls us to “foster the well-being of all the living,” to “feed the hungry, bring water to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, care for the sick, and free the prisoner” (paragraph 41).


We Give Thee but Thine Own

Additional Prayers

A Prayer for a Cheerful Heart
Gracious God, with the same hands in which you placed so many goods,
we offer a part of them back to you. But our hearts are hesitant.
Make them bold, O God.
Our hearts are afraid of having less.
Make them confident, O God.
Our hearts are a little depressed.
Make them strong and cheerful, O God,
in the name of Jesus who gave up everything for us. Amen.
— Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.

We Give Thee but Thine Own

Tune Information

A♭ Major



We Give Thee but Thine Own

Hymn Story/Background

When he wrote this hymn, Bishop William W. How appended a reference to Proverbs 19:17: "Whoever has pity on the poor lends to the Lord"–a Scripture that characterizes not only this hymn text but also much of How's ministry to the poor in the east side of London, England.
“We Give You But Your Own” is a hymn about stewardship, about bringing our gifts to be used for the church's ministry of word and deed to needy people–in other Words, our ministry for Christ. Like Psalm 50 and Isaiah 1, this text declares that everything in creation already belongs to God and that what we give and what we keep are all to be used gratefully in God's service (st. 5). See also 294.
How wrote the text in six stanzas in 1858; it was first published in Psalms and Hymns (2nd ed., 1864), edited by How and Thomas B. Morrell. 
SCHUMANN is one of many hymn tunes arranged by Lowell Mason. He first published the arrangement in Cantica Laudis (1850), a collection he edited with George J. Webb. First called WHITE, the tune was marked "Arr. from Schumann" and was thus ascribed to the German composer Robert A. Schumann. Although Clara Schumann doubted that it came from her husband's music, the tune's name derives from that early association with Schumann's name.
— Bert Polman

Author Information

William W. How (b. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England, 1823; d. Leenane, County Mayo, Ireland, 1897) studied at Wadham College, Oxford, and Durham University and was ordained in the Church of England in 1847. He served various congregations and became Suffragan Bishop in east London in 1879 and Bishop of Wakefield in 1888. Called both the "poor man's bishop" and "the children's bishop," How was known for his work among the destitute in the London slums and among the factory workers in west Yorkshire. He wrote a number of theological works about controversies surrounding the Oxford Movement and attempted to reconcile biblical creation with the theory of evolution. He was joint editor of Psalms and Hymns (1854) and Church Hymns (1871). While rector in Whittington, How wrote some sixty hymns, including many for chil­dren. His collected Poems and Hymns were published in 1886.
— Bert Polman

Composer Information

As a child Lowell Mason (b. Medfield, MA, 1792; d. Orange, NJ, 1872) learned to play every musical instrument available to him. He bought music books and attended a singing school when he was thirteen, and soon began teaching singing schools and directing a church choir. In 1812 he moved to Savannah, Georgia, where he helped to establish the firm Stebbins and Mason, which sold musical instruments in addition to dry goods. Mason also adapted, composed, and harmonized tunes for The Boston Handel and Haydn Society Collection of Church Music (1821). This collection was widely used and resulted in public demand for Mason to lead the music at singing schools, concerts, and Sunday school conventions. He moved to Boston in 1827 to become the music director in three churches; later he became the choir director of the Bowdoin Street Church. In 1833 Mason helped to found the Boston Academy of Music, which was instrumental in introducing music education to the Boston public schools in 1838. An advocate of Pestalozzi's educational principles (an inductive teaching method), Mason frequently lectured in England and the United States. A major force in musical education in the United States and in the promotion of European models of church music (as opposed to the southern folk-hymn tradition), Mason also encouraged the change from exclusive psalm singing to the singing of hymns in the churches. In association with Thomas Hastings, George Webb, and others, Mason compiled some eighty hymnals and collections, includ­ing The Juvenile Psalmist (1829), Spiritual Songs for Social Worship (1832), and, most importantly, Carmina Sacra (1841, revised 1852). Mason composed over eleven hun­dred original hymn tunes and arranged another five hundred, mainly from European sources. He derived most of his tune names from the Old Testament.
— Bert Polman

George James Webb (1803, Salisbury, England – 1887, Orange, New Jersey) be­gan his ca­reer as an or­gan­ist in Fal­mouth, Eng­land. In 1830, he em­i­grat­ed to Bos­ton, Mass­a­chu­setts, where he played the or­gan at the Old South Church for al­most 40 years. He al­so played the or­gan and be­longed to the Bos­ton Church of the New Je­ru­sa­lem. He and Low­ell Ma­son found­ed the Bos­ton Acad­e­my of Mu­sic, as well as col­lab­o­rat­ing on their Mu­sic­al Lib­ra­ry. Webb al­so com­posed sev­er­al chor­al and or­gan works, in­clud­ing “Prel­ude in Eb” and “Post­lude in A.”
Webb’s best known tune, “Webb,” came from a sec­u­lar song he wrote, called “’Tis Dawn, the Lark is Sing­ing”; this song was per­formed at a mus­ic­al show on a ship cross­ing the At­lan­tic Ocean.
— Cyberhymnal.org
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