“Thy Life Was Giv’n For Me” by Frances Havergal
#253 in Songs and Hymns of Life
Frances Havergal is widely appreciated as one of the great hymn writers of the 19th century and has found a unique place in hymnody. Though she wrote on a wide range of topics for the Christian life, she is often called the “consecration poet.” Her hymns are permeated with a simple and sweet love for Jesus and they encourage the singers to unreservedly offer their whole life to their Savior. This, she experienced and taught, was the gateway to an abiding, abundant freedom in the Christian life. As such, her hymns were often used at the Keswick Conventions and she herself often hosted “consecration meetings” in her home, bringing struggling believers into breakthroughs of life and peace unto Christian service.
“Thy Life Was Giv’n For Me” was written when she was just 22 and considers what the Lord Jesus had given up to be our Redeemer. Seeing that His sacrifice was very practical, affecting all aspects of His life, Havergal asks us with each verse: how practical is our consecration? Are there actions in our lives to live out the prayers we have offered?
As you sing the hymn below, consider pausing after a verse to reply to the questions the verse asks. Even take a moment to journal a response. Use this opportunity to consider your past walk with the Lord and if what you’ve offered matches what the Lord is asking of you.
Thy Life was giv’n for me,
Thy blood, O Lord, was shed,
That I might ransomed be,
And quickened from the dead;
Thy Life was giv’n for me, for me;
What have I giv’n for Thee?
Long years were spent for me
In weariness and woe,
That through eternity
Thy glory I might know;
Long years were spent for me, for me;
Have I spent one for Thee?
Thy Father’s home of light,
Thy rainbow-circled throne,
Were left for earthly night,
For wanderings sad and lone;
Yea, all was left for me, for me;
Have I left aught for Thee?
In this hymn, Havergal considers what Jesus left for us and how we may consider what we have really offered in return to the Lord. Havergal experienced this keenly in various parts of her life. She never married, though she had many suitors. The one with whom her heart was taken was not willing to live for the Lord in the way that she had already fully committed to. So she left him for Him. What could have been never was. With that strange mix of a wounded heart with joy in the Lord, she called this ”God’s withholding.” Her heart was comforted by the joy of serving her Master. She was very occupied with ministering house to house with her Bible in hand to show others the Christ she had found.
Thou, Lord, hast borne for me
More than my tongue can tell
Of bitterest agony,
To rescue me from hell;
Thou suff’redst all for me, for me;
What have I borne for Thee?
It has been said of her, “Never did a poet more truly learn in suffering what she taught in song”, and whether it be from the chronic physical suffering she endured or from prolonged spiritual crises she wrestled through with the Lord, Havergal experienced both the trial and the communion that come from suffering with Christ.
Havergal said, “I suppose that God’s crosses are often made of most unexpected and strange material. Perhaps trial must be felt keenly, or it would not be powerful enough as a medicine in the hands of our beloved Healer; and I think it has been a medicine to me latterly.” Again, she said, “I have learned a real sympathy with others walking in darkness, and sometimes it has seemed to help me to help them.”
And Thou hast brought to me
Down from Thy home above
Salvation full and free,
Thy pardon and Thy love;
Great gifts, great gifts Thou broughtest me;
What have I brought to Thee?
Oh, let my life be given,
My years for Thee be spent;
World-fetters all be riven,
And joy with suff’ring blent;
Thou gav’st Thyself for me, for me,
I give myself to Thee.
So saints, in view of what Jesus has given for us, let’s let world-fetters be riven. What have we to fear if joy and suffering are blent? Jesus gave so much for us. It is only fitting that we respond in like kind. Let the Lord shine this light on your life. Is there something He is asking you to offer? What if we hold back? At worst, we may stumble on the narrow way or be arrested in our growth. But what if we lose what we offer? We can trust that “He [does] all things well” (Mark 7:37). This small step brings us into a closer union with Him which will reframe all that we hold dear in this life.
Can you say with Havergal—I give myself to Thee?