Henry Francis Lyte (1793-1847)

Henry Francis Lyte

The other night, we were in church listening to the usual worship songs. It’s a non-denominational church, so it was light on the hymns and heavy on the more contemporary stuff, as you can imagine. I’ve made my peace with “worship music,” understanding that not everyone loves 300 year old hymns, and that’s ok. But the band began to play a song that I had never heard before, and the text and the melody immediately caught my attention. The melody was beautiful, simple, and so singable, but it was the text that really stood out.

Jesus, I my cross have taken, all to leave and follow Thee.
Destitute, despised, forsaken, Thou from hence my all shall be.
Perish every fond ambition, all I’ve sought or hoped or known.
Yet how rich is my condition! God and Heaven are still mine own.

Let the world despise and leave me, they have left my Savior, too.
Human hearts and looks deceive me; Thou art not, like them, untrue.
And while Thou shalt smile upon me, God of wisdom, love and might,
Foes may hate and friends disown me, show Thy face and all is bright.

Go, then, earthly fame and treasure! Come, disaster, scorn and pain!
In Thy service, pain is pleasure; with Thy favor, loss is gain.
I have called Thee, Abba, Father; I have set my heart on Thee:
Storms may howl, and clouds may gather, all must work for good to me.

Man may trouble and distress me, ’twill but drive me to Thy breast.
Life with trials hard may press me; heaven will bring me sweeter rest.
Oh, ’tis not in grief to harm me while Thy love is left to me;
Oh, ’twere not in joy to charm me, were that joy unmixed with Thee.

Take, my soul, thy full salvation; rise o’er sin, and fear, and care;
Joy to find in every station something still to do or bear:
Think what Spirit dwells within thee; what a Father’s smile is thine;
What a Savior died to win thee, child of heaven, shouldst thou repine?

Haste then on from grace to glory, armed by faith, and winged by prayer,
Heaven’s eternal day’s before thee, God’s own hand shall guide thee there.
Soon shall close thy earthly mission, swift shall pass thy pilgrim days;
Hope soon change to glad fruition, faith to sight, and prayer to praise.

Certain lines from the text stayed in my head all night and into the next day, when I finally had a moment to sit down and search for the author. Turns out, Henry Francis Lyte (who, I am ashamed to admit, I’ve never heard of!) also wrote the text for two other well-loved and often-sung hymns–Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven and Abide With Me.

If you have a moment, give these a listen.

For more info on Lyte, here are some sources.

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