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546. Make Me a Captive, Lord

1 Make me a captive, Lord,
and then I shall be free;
force me to render up my sword,
and I shall conqueror be.

2 I sink in life's alarms
when by myself I stand;
imprison me within thine arms,
and strong shall be my hand.

3 My will is not my own
till thou hast made it thine;
if it would reach a monarch's throne,
it must its crown resign.

4 I only stand unbent
amid the clashing strife
when on thy bosom I have leaned
and found in thee my life.

Text Information
First Line: Make me a captive, Lord
Title: Make Me a Captive, Lord
Author: George Matheson (1890, alt.)
Meter: SM
Language: English
Publication Date: 1987
Scripture: ; ; ; ; ;
Topic: Warfare, Spiritual; Will of God; Walk with God (2 more...)
Tune Information
Composer: Samuel Howard (1762)
Meter: SM
Key: g minor

Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 1 = 2 Cor. 12:9-10, Rom. 6:18, 22
st. 2 = Phil. 4:13

This text is the finest example of sustained use of paradox in the Psalter Hymnal. It is built on a series of paradoxes that amplify the New Testament concept of freedom, which can be achieved only by being a servant, or prisoner, of Christ (see 2 Cor. 12:9-10). By their cumulative effect the contrasts between "captive" and "free"; "sink" and "stand"; "my own" and "thine"; "unbent" and "leaned" grip our imagination and powerfully affirm our servanthood to Christ.

George Matheson (b. Glasgow, Scotland, 1842; d. North Berwick, Scotland, 1906) wrote the text during his stay at Row, Dunbartonshire, Scotland, in 1890. It was pub¬lished that same year in his collection of poems and hymns, Sacred Songs, with the heading, "Christian freedom: Paul the prisoner of Jesus Christ (Eph. 3: 1)." The four short-meter stanzas are taken from the first and fourth stanzas of Matheson's original short-meter-double text.

A brilliant student of philosophy at the University of Glasgow and its divinity school, Matheson wrote several important theological and devotional works, including Aids to the Study of German Theology (1874). This achievement is especially noteworthy because of his failing eyesight during his teen years and virtual blindness by the age of eighteen. He had to rely on others, especially his sisters, for all his reading, research, and writing. Matheson was a very able preacher, serving Presbyterian churches in Glasgow; Clydeside Church in Innellan, Argyllshire (1868-1886); and finally St. Bernard's Church in Edinburgh (1886-1899).

Liturgical Use:
Many occasions of worship, especially after the sermon; adult baptism; profession of faith; ordination; times of testimony to the joy of being "captives" of Christ.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

Samuel Howard (b. London, England, 1710; d. London, 1782) composed ST. BRIDE as a setting for Psalm 130 in William Riley's London psalter, Parochial Harmony (1762). The melody originally began with "gathering" notes at the beginning of each phrase. The tune's title is a contraction of St. Bridget, the London church on Fleet Street where Howard was organist (the church was destroyed in an air raid in 1940).

Howard was a chorister in the Chapel Royal and later sang tenor in a chorus for Georg Friederich Handel. But his main career was as an organist: he held concurrent organist positions at St. Bride, Fleet Street (1736-1782), and St. Clement Dane, The Strand (1769-1782). A composer of many songs, cantatas, and theater music, Howard assisted William Boyce (PHH 553) in the compiling of Cathedral Music (1760-1773). His church music includes a number of anthems and hymn tunes.

Erik Routley (PHH 31) described ST. BRIDE as "one of the best short-meter tunes available" because of the "girder-like effect of the long downward scale contrasting with the arch-like shape of the other three phrases" (The Music of Christian Hymns, p. 71). The tune is constructed with a sensitive balance of melodic steps and leaps. Sing in harmony at a deliberate pace that permits consideration of the literary device in the text.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

MIDI file: MIDI Preview
(Faith Alive Christian Resources)
More media are available on the text authority and tune authority pages.

MAKE ME A CAPTIVE, LORD (Gray Psalter 546)
PowerPoint Presentation for Projection
MAKE ME A CAPTIVE, LORD (Gray Psalter 546 to Gray Psalter 420)
PowerPoint Presentation for Projection
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