1 Make me a captive, Lord,
and then I shall be free;
force me to render up my sword,
and I shall conqueror be.
I sink in life's alarms
when by myself I stand;
imprison me within thine arms,
and strong shall be my hand.
2 My heart is weak and poor
until it master find;
it has no spring of action sure,
it varies with the wind.
It cannot freely move
till thou hast wrought its chain;
enslave it with thy matchless love,
and deathless it shall reign.
3 My power is faint and low
till I have learned to serve;
it lacks the needed fire to glow,
it lacks the breeze to nerve;
it cannot drive the world
until itself be driven;
its flag can only be unfurled
when thou shalt breathe from heaven.
4 My will is not my own
till thou hast made it thine;
if it would reach a monarch's throne,
it must its crown resign;
it only stands unbent
amid the clashing strife,
when on thy bosom it has leant,
and found in thee its life.
Source: Hymns of Glory, Songs of Praise #534
|First Line:||Make me a captive, Lord|
|Title:||Make Me a Captive, Lord|
|Author:||George Matheson (1890)|
st. 1 = 2 Cor. 12:9-10, Rom. 6:18, 22
st. 2 = Phil. 4:13
This text is the finest example of sustained use of paradox in the Psalter Hymnal. It is built on a series of paradoxes that amplify the New Testament concept of freedom, which can be achieved only by being a servant, or prisoner, of Christ (see 2 Cor. 12:9-10). By their cumulative effect the contrasts between "captive" and "free"; "sink" and "stand"; "my own" and "thine"; "unbent" and "leaned" grip our imagination and powerfully affirm our servanthood to Christ.
George Matheson (b. Glasgow, Scotland, 1842; d. North Berwick, Scotland, 1906) wrote the text during his stay at Row, Dunbartonshire, Scotland, in 1890. It was pub¬lished that same year in his collection of poems and hymns, Sacred Songs, with the heading, "Christian freedom: Paul the prisoner of Jesus Christ (Eph. 3: 1)." The four short-meter stanzas are taken from the first and fourth stanzas of Matheson's original short-meter-double text.
A brilliant student of philosophy at the University of Glasgow and its divinity school, Matheson wrote several important theological and devotional works, including Aids to the Study of German Theology (1874). This achievement is especially noteworthy because of his failing eyesight during his teen years and virtual blindness by the age of eighteen. He had to rely on others, especially his sisters, for all his reading, research, and writing. Matheson was a very able preacher, serving Presbyterian churches in Glasgow; Clydeside Church in Innellan, Argyllshire (1868-1886); and finally St. Bernard's Church in Edinburgh (1886-1899).
Many occasions of worship, especially after the sermon; adult baptism; profession of faith; ordination; times of testimony to the joy of being "captives" of Christ.
--Psalter Hymnal Handbook