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3/11/13 at 09:05 AM 0 Comments

Hymn Stories: My Jesus I Love Thee

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My Jesus I Love Thee” is a sweet expression of love for the Savior that flows directly from the author’s experience of the Savior’s love for him. A remarkable thing about “My Jesus I Love Thee” is that it was not penned by an aged and experienced hymn-writer like so many of our favorite hymns. Rather, it was originally written as a devotional poem by Willam Ralph Featherston, a teenager who had recently come to faith.

Not much is known about Featherston, except that he attended a Methodist church in Montreal, that he was young when he wrote the poem (12 or 16 years old), and that he died at just 27 years of age. One story about how the poem became public is that Featherston mailed it to his aunt in Los Angeles who, upon reading it, quickly sought its publication.

 It wasn’t until several years after Featherston’s death that Adoniram Judson Gordon (founder of Gordon College and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary [pictured to the right]) added a melody and published it in his book of hymns, thus forever transforming this poem to a song.

As we consider the words of the poem, it is clear to see why Gordon deemed it worthy of wider attention. As we sing Featherson’s words we are all able to declare our intimacy with Christ, to sing of our assurance of salvation, to celebrate the gospel, to delight in Christ’s loveliness, and to resolve to praise Christ through all circumstances. The movement of each of these themes extends from now—this very moment—into eternity.

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.

I love Thee because Thou has 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.

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.

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.

You can find a recent recording on the album Hymns from Page CXVI. You can download it for free (until March 31) at pagecxvi.com/jubilee/. Another excellent and recent recording of this hymn can be found on the album Depth of Mercy by Red Mountain Music. Listen here.

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