“What’s in it for me? It’s my life. It’s my ministry. These are my talents. That’s my money to spend the way I want.” Have we entertained these thoughts? As Christians, we can sometimes lose our bearings in our walk with God and start asking, “What is God going to do for me? How is God going to bless me?”
The texts of ‘Take My Life, and Let It Be’ depict a stark contrast to a self-centered life that thinks only of fulfilling one’s selfish needs and desires. The composer, Frances R. Havergal (1836-1879), called it a consecration hymn. It was written on 4 Feb 1874, the last night of her five-day visit to friends at Arley House, Worcestershire.
Known as the “consecration poet”, Havergal said a prayer that all 10 members of the family she was visiting might become genuine and rejoicing Christians. God answered her prayer and she wrote, “Before I left the house everyone had got a blessing… I was too happy to sleep and spent most of the night in praise and renewal of my own consecration; and these little couplets formed themselves, and chimed my heart one after another, till they finished with ‘Ever, Only, ALL for Thee!’ ”
Structurally, the original text of the hymn takes the form of 12 paired couplets that extol the beauty of a consecrated life. A life surrendered to Christ is the submission of the entire personality – mind, body, words and deeds, intellect and will – as well as one’s money and possessions.
The hymn is Havergal’s personal song of consecration. The first stanza consecrates her life moment by moment, as well as her hands and feet. The second stanza is personally significant for Havergal who was naturally very musical and had been trained as a concert soloist. Instead of seeking worldly fame, Havergal was determined to sing only for Jesus. The final stanza consecrates her will, heart, love and self, which embody her whole being.
Let us be wholly consecrated to the Lord and be faithful stewards of the good gifts God has entrusted to us.
Take My Life, and Let It Be (The United Methodist Hymnal, #399)
Take my life, and let it be
consecrated, Lord, to thee.
Take my moments and my days;
let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands, and let them move
at the impulse of thy love.
Take my feet, and let them be
swift and beautiful for thee.
Take my voice, and let me sing
always, only, for my King.
Take my lips, and let them be
filled with messages from thee.
Take my silver and my gold;
not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect, and use
every power as thou shalt choose.
Take my will, and make it thine;
it shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is thine own;
it shall be thy royal throne.
Take my love, my Lord, I pour
at thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself, and I will be
ever, only, all for thee.
Words: Frances R. Havergal, 1873 (Rom. 12:1)
Music: Louis J. F. Herold, 1839, arr. by George Kingsley, 1839
Dr Yeo Teck Beng –
is a member of Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church.