285. O Jesus, I Have Promised

1 O Jesus, I have promised
to serve you to the end;
be now and ever near me,
my Master and my Friend.
I shall not fear the battle
if you are by my side,
nor wander from the pathway
if you will be my guide.

2 O let me feel you near me;
the world is ever near:
I see the sights that dazzle,
the tempting sounds I hear.
My foes are ever near me,
around me and within;
but, Jesus, draw still nearer
and shield my soul from sin!

3 O let me hear you speaking
in accents clear and still,
above the storms of passion,
the murmurs of self-will.
O speak to reassure me,
to hasten or control;
and speak to make me listen,
O Guardian of my soul.

4 O Jesus, you have promised
to all who follow you
that where you are in glory
your servants shall be too.
O guide me, call me, draw me,
uphold me to the end,
when you in glory take me,
my Savior and my Friend.

Text Information
First Line: O Jesus, I have promised
Title: O Jesus, I Have Promised
Author: John E. Bode (1869, alt.)
Meter: 76 76 D
Language: English
Publication Date: 1987
Scripture: ; ;
Topic: Commitment & Dedication; Profession of Faith; Temptation & Trial (8 more...)
Tune Information
Harmonizer: David Evans (1927)
Meter: 76 76 D
Key: E♭ Major
Source: Finnish folk melody
Copyright: Harmonization by permission of Oxford University Press

Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 1 = Luke 9:57, Rom. 6:13
st. 4 = John 12:26

John E. Bode (b. St. Pancras, England, 1816; d. Castle Camps, Cambridgeshire, England, 1874) wrote this hymn of consecration in 1866 on the occasion of the confirmation (profession of faith and first communion) of his daughter and two sons. The text was printed in 1868 by the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge in a leaflet entitled "A Hymn for the Newly Confirmed" and was later published in an appendix to that society's Psalms and Hymns (1869).

A fine student at Christ Church, Oxford, England, and a prominent scholar who gave the famous Bampton Lectures ("for the exposition and defense of the Christian faith") at Oxford in 1855, Bode was a rector in Westwell, Oxfordshire, and in Castle Camps. This gifted poet and hymn writer published Hymns for the Gospel of the Day, for Each Sunday and Festivals of Our Lord in 1860.

Nearly all hymnals, including the Psalter Hymnal, delete two of Bode's original six stanzas. The hymn originally began with the words "O Jesus, we have promised" and included a reference to Luke 9:57: "I will follow you wherever you go." The text, especially stanza 4, has been altered for publication in the Psalter Hymnal.

The word "promised" in stanza 1 refers to the vows taken at confirmation/ profession of faith. This hymn is a prayer for Christ's presence on the Christian pilgrimage–in the face of temptation and external sin (st. 2) and internal guilt (st. 3)–and it assures us that our promises (st. 1) come in response to the promises of Christ (st. 4) .

Liturgical Use:
Profession of faith; adult baptism; ordination; as a hymn of dedication following the sermon.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

NYLAND, named for a province in Finland, is a folk melody from Kuortane, South Ostrobothnia, Finland. In fact, the tune is also known as KUORTANE. NYLAND was first published with a hymn text in an appendix to the 1909 edition of the Finnish Suomen Evankelis Luterilaisen Kirken Koraalikirja. It gained popularity in the English-speaking world after David Evans's use of it in the British Church Hymnary of 1927 as a setting for Anna 1. Waring's text "In Heavenly Love Abiding." Evans (b. Resolven, Glamorganshire, Wales, 1874; d. Rosllannerchrugog, Denbighshire, Wales, 1948) edited that hymnal, which was the source of a number of his harmonizations, including this one.

David Evans was an important leader in Welsh church music. Educated at Arnold College, Swansea, and at University College, Cardiff, he received a doctorate in music from Oxford University. His longest professional post was as professor of music at University College in Cardiff (1903-1939), where he organized a large music department. He was also a well-known and respected judge at Welsh hymn-singing festivals and a composer of many orchestral and choral works, anthems, service music, and hymn tunes.

NYLAND is a modified rounded bar-form tune (AA'BA') with a wide-ranging melodic contour and a fine harmonization for part singing. It needs good singers for the harmony and requires organ phrasing that produces four long lines.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

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