Full Version: Jesus, Lover of my Soul
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.
Jesus, Lover of My Soul

We all know the traditional hymn tune, but I encourage you to spend a few minutes with this wonderful modern melody setting, which really expresses the pathos and heart cry fo the lyrics so much more than either of the commonly used hymn tunes.

It would be hard to find a hymn whose words have made such an imprint on the heart of the Christian church as Charles Wesley's "Jesus, Lover of My Soul." From the time Wesley put pen to paper until today it has been treasured by Christians the world over, that is, all but his brother John.

It seems that John Wesley, who served as the editor of Charles' hymns, felt that the imagery in this hymn was too intimate for use in mixed congregations, so it wasn't included in the Methodist Hymnbook until nine years after his death. In light of the hymn's overwhelming popularity it may seem that John's assessment was too harsh, but his critiques were instrumental in dividing the wheat from the chaff of Charles' 6500 hymns.

This hymn originally bore the heading "In Times of Danger and Temptation," which leads many to believe that it was inspired by Charles' near shipwreck on his return from America, where he spent a discouraging year as secretary to Governor Oglethorpe of Georgia. Other spurious stories exist about how the text came to be, like the one that says a sparrow being chased by a hawk sought refuge by flying into Wesley's coat, which made him think about the way we seek refuge in God. Another tells of the night the Wesleys were chased from a revival meeting by an angry mob; while they were hiding in a spring house, Charles sharpened a piece of lead into a pencil and wrote down the immortal verses.

Colorful anecdotes exist not only about the hymn's creation, but about the effect it has had on believers since it was written. Below is one of those stories as recounted in Amos R. Well's A Treasury of Hymn Stories:

Another beautiful story is told of this hymn in connection with the Civil War. In a company of old soldiers, from the Union and Confederate armies, a former Confederate was telling how he had been detailed one night to shoot a certain exposed sentry of the opposing army. He had crept near and was about to fire with deadly aim when the sentry began to sing, "Jesus, Lover of My Soul." He came to the words,

Cover my defenseless head
With the shadow of Thy wing.

The hidden Confederate lowered his gun and stole away. "I can't kill that man," said he, "though he were ten times my enemy."

In the company was an old Union soldier who asked quickly,
"Was that in the Atlanta campaign of '64?"
"Then I was the Union sentry!"

And he went on to tell how, on that night, knowing the danger of his post, he had been greatly depressed, and, to keep up his courage, had begun to hum that hymn. By the time he had finished, he was entirely calm and fearless. Through the song God had spoken to two souls.

Jesus, lover of my soul,
let me to thy bosom fly,
while the nearer waters roll,
while the tempest still is high.

Hide me, O my Savior, hide,
till the storm of life is past;
safe into the haven guide;
O receive my soul at last.

Other refuge have I none,
hangs my helpless soul on thee;
leave, ah! leave me not alone,
still support and comfort me.
All my trust on thee is stayed,
all my help from thee I bring;
cover my defenseless head
with the shadow of thy wing.

Thou, O Christ, art all I want,
more than all in thee I find;
raise the fallen, cheer the faint,
heal the sick, and lead the blind.
Just and holy is thy name,
I am all unrighteousness;
false and full of sin I am;
thou art full of truth and grace.

Plenteous grace with thee is found,
grace to cover all my sin;
let the healing streams abound,
make and keep me pure within.
Thou of life the fountain art,
freely let me take of thee;
spring thou up within my heart;
rise to all eternity.

Below is a frequently omitted third verse of "Jesus, Lover of My Soul":

Wilt Thou not regard my call?
Wilt Thou not accept my prayer?
Lo! I sink! I faint! I fall!
Lo! on Thee I cast my care:
Reach me out Thy gracious hand!
While I of Thy strength receive,
Hoping against hope I stand
Dying, and behold I live.