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James Reinarz
March 31, 2021
This entry is part [part not set] of 6 in the series Sing with Me
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“Take My Life And Let It Be” by Frances Havergal
#254 in Songs and Hymns of Life

“Take My Life And Let It Be” may be Frances Havergal’s most beloved hymn. Written in 1874, the clear message of consecration in each verse paired with an excellently joyful hymn tune makes for an infectious combination. From the beginning it seems this hymn was popular and published with all sorts of tunes. However, when it was finally paired with the noble and flowing “Hendon”, possibly in 1887 in Ira Sankey’s Gospel Hymns No. 5, that was a real “match made in heaven.” For the modern American singer, it is almost impossible to sing the tune to other words or these words to a different tune! They really are a perfect pair. Once the tune is started, I find it hard not to have an inward smile or to stop the lyrics from their “flow in ceaseless praise.”

Enjoy the full hymn below. Feel free to sing it again if you, like me, find it hard to stop. Click here for audio to sing along with.

Verse 1
Take my life, and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee;
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.

Verse 2
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,
Swift and beautiful for Thee.

Verse 3
Take my voice, and let me sing
Always, only, for my King;
Take my lips, and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee,
Filled with messages from Thee.

Verse 4
Take my silver and my gold;
Not a mite would I withhold;
Take my intellect, and use
Every power as Thou shalt choose,
Every power as Thou shalt choose.

Verse 5
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,
It shall be Thy royal throne.

Verse 6
Take my love; my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure-store.
Take myself, and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee,
Ever, only, all for Thee.

Concerning the source of these words, Havergal writes, 

Perhaps you will be interested to know the origin of the consecration hymn “Take my life.” I went for a little visit of five days (to Areley House). There were ten persons in the house, some unconverted and long prayed for, some converted, but not rejoicing Christians. He gave me the prayer “Lord, give me all in this house.” And He just did.

Before I left the house everyone had got a blessing. The last night of my visit after I had retired, the governess asked me to go to the two daughters. They were crying; then and there both of them trusted and rejoiced; it was nearly midnight. I was too happy to sleep, and passed most of the night in praise and renewal of my own consecration; and these little couplets formed themselves, and chimed in my heart one after another till they finished with “Ever, Only, ALL for Thee!”’ (Emphasis is hers.)

Havergal’s remarks are reprinted in Dr. John Julian’s Dictionary of Hymnology page 1114.

In the joy of such an exhibition of the faithfulness of God, Havergal considered that this was the best life to live—a life Ever for Christ, Only for Christ and ALL for Christ! By “all”, she really means all of us. The verses walk us through our whole being, from “head to toe” so to speak, encouraging us to offer all of our person to God. And her experience illustrates the blessings God can grant to such a vessel handed over for His use. You can almost taste the joy bubbling over in her testimony. It’s like that night touched the very meaning of her life. This is a satisfaction only His servants know. 

We can sometimes consider consecration with a heavy heart and a weary weight. But the freedom and joy that comes from consecration is actually a privilege and if we could but see this we’d jump at the chance to offer ourselves. This, I feel, is why this buoyant tune is married so well with these words. The joy in the tune matches the untethered devotion swept up in the lyrics. Yielding our all to the Lord is not a burden. When we taste the freedom it avails, we realize it is only, ever, and always a privilege, a fruit of God’s redemptive mercy and a gracious opportunity we have been granted. 

Consider with me as I reflect on myself. Verse 1 offers my life. When I’m living for myself, what really is the fruit of that? Am I happy? Is my life getting better? Only fleetingly so. What about, as offered later in verse 1, my moments? It’s so easy to schedule in big activities that are “the Lord’s”, but then the little moments can often get lost “doom scrolling” on social media. Are those moments really better when they’re mine? What about my hands? Or my lips?

What about verse 5 which offers my will? One year, I decided to quit school and join a one-year Bible internship. That was the best possible thing I could think of to do with my life. It took me months to realize the Lord was somewhat far, withholding His full presence from me in a way that was unfamiliar. I eventually realized that I had never actually considered if God wanted me to stay in school. That was a terrible thought. Nothing could be worse. I was burnt out and dreaded continuing. But one day, while crossing an abandoned Cleveland parking lot on my way to my apartment, I prayed. While shuffling gravel around with my toe, I said it: “God, if you want me to stay and get my Master’s degree, I will.” Suddenly in that moment of yielded submission, all the peace and joy of God’s presence returned. What I dreaded was suddenly clear and not actually as bad a thought as I imagined. I didn’t realize that I was about to enter into the best two years of my life, up to that time. I would be serving God as a student, fully in His will.

In this train of thought, we taste some of what the apostle wrote in Romans 6:21-22: “But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life[!]”(ESV) “Slave” is always a heavy word on our ears, but the alternative was not a life free, but one mastered by sin. Now that we have been set free, this consecrated life yields a different kind of fruit. Paul and Havergal illustrate how once we are a slave of God, “Ever, Only, ALL” to God, then we are truly free. This is a privilege, never a duty. And the fruit we get leads us to sanctification and its end—eternal life. What other life is worth living for? 

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