Week 4: Self-Sacrifice



Take My Life

Text: Frances Havergal (1836–1879), 1874

Tune: Ferdinand Hérold (1791–1833), 1839

  1. Consider the list of items offered up to God: life, time, hands, feet, voice, lips, wealth, mind, will, heart, love, and self. Are any of these more surprising or challenging than the others? Which ones speak to you personally, and what does it look like to fully sacrifice that?
    • “hands”: the word “impulse” implies reacting to every small direction, and with immediacy - no delay
    • “voice”: singing only for God means excluding everything else; Havergal was a talented voice and piano performer, but after 1873 refused to sing anything but sacred music
    • “intellect”: significant considering how smart Havergal was, its “power” is often underrated and overlooked
      • Romans 12:1-2 pairs the physical “bodies as a living sacrifice” with the intellectual “renewal of your mind”
    • “silver and gold”: on one occasion, Havergal donated nearly all of her jewelry to charity, saying:

      “Take my silver and my gold” now means shipping off all my ornaments … to the Church Missionary society where they will be accepted and disposed of for me… I had no idea I had such a jeweller’s shop; nearly fifty articles are being packed off. I don’t think I need tell you I never packed a box with such pleasure.

    • “heart”: becoming a “royal throne” means inviting Jesus to reside there, as well as subjugating it to Him
      • Could also be read as forgoing earthly love - Havergal never married
    • “love”: to “pour at Thy feet” matches pouring oil on Jesus’ feet after He raised Lazarus (John 12:3)

Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken

Text: Henry Francis Lyte (1793–1847), 1824

Tune: Anonymous, 1831

  1. In the hymn, Lyte lists a number of different sacrifices to be made in following Jesus - list all you can find, along with the hymn’s explanation why each is worthwhile.

    • “destitute”: spiritual riches are greater than earthly ones (see Mark 10:23-31)
    • “despised”, “forsaken”: the same people despised and abandoned Jesus too; God will not forsake or deceive you.
    • “trouble”, “distress”: only brings us closer to God through trust and dependence on Him
    • “faith” and “prayer” are the tools to get us through life; God Himself guides us; “hope” fixes our sight on the end goal
  2. Knowing what you do about Lyte’s background, how do you see his experiences reflected in this hymn?

    • No parents, no money, poor health, (“destitute”, “forsaken”, “life with trials…”)
    • Many parallels with “Abide With Me”:
      • “foes may hate, and friends may shun me” … “other helpers fail and comforts flee”
      • “swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day” … “swift shall pass thy pilgrim days”
      • “God’s own hand shall guide thee there” … “Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?”
    • Quiet and bookish, not a terribly social person
      • “Man may trouble and distress me”
      • “Human hearts and looks deceive me”

All Who Would Valiant Be

Text: John Bunyan (1628–1688), 1684

Tune: Traditional English

  1. Compare the hymn text against Bunyan’s original. While Dearmer’s version has been standard for quite a while, some recent hymnals are returning to the original text (including the Church of England’s Common Praise. Which do you think is more appropriate for use today?

    • Dearmer himself said:

      But when … we had made a great hymn, it became easy for our imitators to complain that we had altered the words. We felt that we had done rightly; and that no one would have been more distressed than Bunyan himself to have people singing about hobgoblins in church. He had not written it for a hymn, and it was not suitable as a hymn without adaptation.

    • The Gospel in Hymns says:

      …in our “cultured” times, editors have seen fit to tone down [Bunyan’s] picturesque particulars into colorless generalities.

    • The Hymnal 1940 Companion says (about including the original text):

      Bunyan’s burly song strikes a new and welcome note in our Hymnal. The quaint sincerity of the words stirs us out of our easygoing dull Christianity to the thrill of great adventure.

  2. How would you characterize the difference in perspective on “self-sacrifice” between the three hymns? Do you get a fuller picture of the topic looking at all three together?

    • Havergal is mainly concerned with sacrifices that we choose to make, but necessary to grow closer to Christ
      • Takes a small-scale view of individual things we should be doing
    • Lyte is concerned with sacrifices that are a down-stream effect of our choice to follow Jesus, placed on us by other people (and by the world)
      • Looks a “point-in-time” in the middle of the Christian walk, with a few specifics but looking forward to heaven as the goal
    • Bunyan takes both and works them into a hymn of encouragement, to continue on the path we have already started
      • Takes a large-scale view of the whole Christian journey, in broad strokes