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James Reinarz
February 24, 2021
This entry is part [part not set] of 6 in the series Sing with Me
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“I Gave My Life For Thee” by Frances Havergal
Original words to #253 in Songs and Hymns of Life

Last post, we sang #253 in Songs and Hymns of Life “Thy Life Was Giv’n For Me.” The words to this poem were altered from the original in a hymnal from 1871.  This was done with Havergal’s permission, yet she was clear that she preferred the original words. Today we will learn them, with the tune her father wrote for this hymn. But before we sing, let’s share this hymn’s story.

Ecce homo is Latin for the words Pontus Pilate spoke to the Jews when he presented Jesus beaten, robed, and crowned with thorns—“Behold the Man.” (John 19:5)

Miss Havergal encountered these words when she took a trip to Germany in her early 20’s. At one stop at the house of a German minister, she saw a painting hanging on the wall depicting Christ with the crown of thorns. The painting was entitled Ecce Homo and at the bottom of the painting was this Latin inscription: 

Ego pro te haec passus sum
Tu vero quid fecisti pro me

“I did this for thee! What hast thou done for Me?” 
(Her translation)

She was deeply moved by this question and the words clung to her as lines of a hymn began to form on the spot.

It seems certain that she was not the first person in church history to have been moved by this same painting, or at least by a copy of it. Count Nicholas von Zinzendorf was struck as if by a lightning bolt when he visited a museum in Dusseldorf and viewed Domineco Feti’s Ecce Homo or “Behold the Man.” At the bottom were these same words. “This have I suffered for you; now what will you do for Me?” This moment forever changed Zinzendorf’s life. And while Feti painted several different settings of Jesus in the crown of thorns, not all versions had this inscription. So in this moment, histories collide as the Lord touches His servants through reverent art. 

After writing some lines quickly, Havergal considered destroying them, thinking them unworthy. But they were preserved and she showed the draft to her father a few months later. He was so moved that he wrote the hymn tune “Baca to accompany them. 

Let’s sing the original words with her father’s tune. I have copied it as it appeared in her manuscript copy (1) with a corresponding Bible verse supporting each line. 

Verse 1
I gave My life for thee, (Galatians 2:20)
My precious blood I shed, (1 Peter 1:19)
That thou might’st ransomed be, (Ephesians 1:7)
And quickened from the dead. (Ephesians 2:1)
I gave My life for thee; (Titus 2:14)
What hast thou given for Me? (John 21:15–17)

Verse 2
I spent long years for thee (1 Timothy 1:15)
In weariness and woe, (Isaiah 53:3)
That an eternity (John 17:24)
Of joy thou mightest know. (John 16:22)
I spent long years for thee; (John 1:10, 11)
Hast thou spent one for Me? (1 Peter 4:2)

Verse 3
My Father’s home of light, (John 17:5)
My rainbow-circled throne, (Revelation 4:3)
I left, for earthly night, (Philippians 2:7)
For wanderings sad and lone. (Matthew 8:20)
I left it all for thee; (2 Corinthians 8:9)
Hast thou left aught for Me? (Luke 10:29)

Verse 4
I suffered much for thee, (Isaiah 53:5)
More than thy tongue may tell, (Matthew 26:39)
Of bitterest agony, (Luke 22:44)
To rescue thee from hell. (Romans 5:9)
I suffered much for thee; (1 Peter 2:21–24)
What canst thou bear for Me? (Romans 8:17, 18)

Verse 5
And I have brought to thee, (John 4:10, 14)
Down from My home above, (John 3:13)
Salvation full and free, (Revelation 21:6)
My pardon and My love. (Acts 5:31)
Great gifts I brought to thee; (Psalm 68:18)
What hast thou brought to Me? (Romans 12:1)

Verse 6
Oh, let thy life be given, (Romans 6:13)
Thy years for Him be spent, (2 Corinthians 5:15)
World-fetters all be riven, (Philippians 3:8)
And joy with suffering blent; (1 Peter 4:13–16)
I gave Myself for thee: (Ephesians 5:2)
Give thou thyself to Me! (Proverbs 23:26)

If you read last week’s post or are familiar with “Thy Life Was Giv’n For Me”, you’ll recognize immediately that this original is written in the first person—the Lord Jesus Himself is speaking to us! This is startling and powerful. Rarely are hymns written from God’s perspective with Him speaking directly to us. The light here is almost too bright. Sometimes in singing this, I feel as if I’m placed underneath a microscope and Jesus is speaking to every part of my soul. Though I squint, I know this is right. Jesus bought me at a price. He already owns me. It is better for Him to uncover hidden corners of my heart kept for myself alone than for me to serve Him for years ignorant of the hay and stubble I’ve been laying down. 

The last verse is the strongest yet. The questions have given way to requests—“Oh, let thy life be given”—and finally a command our Lord has full right to make: “Give thou thyself to Me!” 

Amen, behold the Man. What are our complaints in comparison? What is too unreasonable of a life to live that He cannot relate to? What might we suffer in which we should stop entrusting ourselves to Him who judges justly? (1 Peter 2:23)  What life choices are so misunderstood by friends and family that the reproaches of Christ are not a greater wealth than all the treasures of Egypt? (Hebrews 11:26)

Let us allow the Lord to possess His possession. 

  1. About Frances Ridley Havergal – Page 2 (
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