“I Must Tell Jesus” is a hymn that encourages those who are struggling by reminding them that they do not bear their burdens alone, but have Christ to help them along their journey. There are several scriptures alluded to in this hymn, but the one that stands out is Hebrews 2:18 which says, “He is able to help all those who are being tempted.” No matter the struggle or burden, Jesus will be with his people to bear their burdens.
The text for this hymn was written in 1894 by Elisha A. Hoffman. Hoffman was a Presbyterian minister who composed over 2000 hymns during his lifetime—most of these hymns being produced over the 33 years that Hoffman served as pastor at Benton Harbor Presbyterian Church. For the majority of his hymns, Hoffman also composed the music. One of his most famous hymns, “I Must Tell Jesus,” reminds the listener that there is always a person we can place our cares upon—Jesus Christ. It is a reminder so powerful that it has endured the test of time through hundreds of hymnals.
Hoffman also wrote the tune ORWIGSBURG specifically for his text “I Must Tell Jesus.” The title of the tune comes from the borough of Orwigsburg in Pennsylvania where Hoffman was born. Hoffman’s musical talents and abilities were no doubt advanced by his family growing up, who not only worshipped in church every Sunday (his father was a minister as well), but also held daily family worship time. Although he never received formal music training in school, he was naturally gifted.
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