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557. My Jesus, I Love Thee

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1 My Jesus, I love thee, I know thou art mine;
for thee all the follies of sin I resign;
my gracious Redeemer, my Savior art thou;
if ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now.

2 I love thee because thou hast first loved me
and purchased my pardon on Calvary's tree;
I love thee for wearing the thorns on thy brow;
if ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now.

3 I'll love thee in life, I will love thee in death,
and praise thee as long as thou lendest me breath,
and say when the deathdew lies cold on my brow:
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now.

4 In mansions of glory and endless delight,
I'll ever adore thee in heaven so bright;
I'll sing with the glittering crown on my brow:
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now.

Text Information
First Line: My Jesus, I love thee, I know thou art mine
Title: My Jesus, I Love Thee
Author: William R. Featherstone (c. 1862)
Meter: 11 11 11 11
Language: English
Publication Date: 1987
Scripture: ; ; ;
Topic: Biblical Names & Places: Calvary; Funerals; Love: Our Love to God (3 more...)
Tune Information
Composer: Adoniram J. Gordon (1876)
Meter: 11 11 11 11
Key: F Major

Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 1 = 1 Pet. 1:8
st. 2 = 1 John 4:10, 19

William R. Featherstone (b. Montreal, Quebec, Canada, 1846; d. Montreal, 1873) wrote this beloved devotional text in 1862 in Montreal at the age of sixteen (possibly at the time of his conversion and baptism). He incorporated these phrases from an old revival hymn into his text:

O Jesus, my Savior! I know thou art mine.
For thee all the pleasures of earth I resign.

Featherstone sent "My Jesus, I Love Thee" to an aunt in Los Angeles, California, who presumably encouraged its distribution. But the text was first published anonymously in the London Hymn Book (1864), set to a now-forgotten tune. It was also published in Dwight L. Moody's Northwestern Hymn Book (1868). Very little is known about Feather¬stone.1t appears that he lived in Montreal his whole life, where he was a member of the Wesleyan Methodist Church (now St. James United Church).

The refrain presents the theme of the text: "If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now” a testimony of fervent love for the Savior, a personal love that chooses for Christ and against sin (st. 1), a thankful love for Christ's salvation, a love born in response "because he first loved us" (1 John 4:19; st. 2), and a love that leads through death (st. 3) to a vision of glory in heaven (st. 4) .

Liturgical Use:
As a hymn of commitment and devotion to Christ for baptism, Lord's Supper, and many other occasions of worship.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

In 1870 Featherstone's text came to the attention of Adoniram J. Gordon (b. New Hampton, NH, 1836; d. Boston, MA, 1895), an evangelical preacher who was compiling a new Baptist hymnal. Because he was unhappy with the existing melody for this text, Gordon composed this tune; as he wrote, "in a moment of inspiration, a beautiful new air sang itself to me." Named for the composer, GORDON was first published in the 1876 edition of Caldwell and Gordon's The Service of Song for Baptist Churches.

Gordon, who was named after Adoniram Judson (1788-1850), the pioneering Baptist missionary to India and Burma, was educated at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, and Newton Theological Seminary, Newton, Massachusetts. After being ordained in 1863, he served the Baptist Church in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, and the Clarendon Street Baptist Church, Boston. A close friend of Dwight L. Moody, he promoted evangelism and edited The Service of Song for Baptist Churches (1871) as well as The Vestry Hymn and Tune Book (1872). Both Gordon College and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary are named after Gordon.

Sing this rounded bar form (AABA) tune in harmony throughout. It is a beautiful candidate for singing with little or no accompaniment. Do not rush the long phrases.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

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