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Story Behind The Hymn My Jesus I Love Thee

My Jesus I Love Thee hymn Story

The Hymn My Jesus I Love Thee

My Jesus I Love Thee hymn story is so special because of the messages it conveys. This hymn, My Jesus I love Thee, beautifully expressed the love from the author’s heart to Jesus.

The most surprising thing about this hymn is that it was written by a sixteen year old teenager. Not at all a hymn from an experienced hymn writer like the author of our other favourite hymns.

Every line of the hymn My Jesus I love Thee thoroughly expresses the continuous love for Christ. The hymn is truly inspiring and one of the best hymns to celebrate the gospel of Jesus and Christ’s loveliness.

Singing the words of this hymn as a believer gives us the privilege to proclaim the eternal love we share with Christ as expressed by the author of the hymn.

Also, it is another chance to declare our assurance of salvation in Him through singing a song of His love.

In particular, stanza three specially makes every singer take a stand to praise Christ as long as there is life or no life in them.

The hymn My Jesus I Love Thee is a very popular Christian hymn and appeared in many well-known hymnals.

Who Wrote the Hymn

The writer is not a well-known hymn writer like Fanny J Crosby, Newton and others.  The lyrics of the hymn My Jesus I Love Thee was written by William Featherston of Montreal at the age of twelve or sixteen.

The hymn has appeared in several hymn books as anonymous. But the lyrics of the hymn were later credited to him and made him popular. This was validated from research done in 1930 to establish the authorship of the hymn.

In fact, there is no other hymn that was known with William Ralph Featherston besides My Jesus I Love Thee.

Astonishingly, this one and only hymn we knew him with made him well-known despite his short life.

There is the possibility that William Featherston wrote several other poems.  Certainly, none of them was known or published and survived like this particular one.

Life of William Ralph Featherston

William Ralph Featherston was born in Montreal, the most populous city in the province of Quebec, Canada on the 23rd of July 1846.

Noticeably, there is a little unreliable information about his year of birth. Some stated it was 1842 while others believed it was 1846. But the fact remains that he was born around the 1840s.

His father and mother are Mr John Stephenson Featherston and Mrs Mary Stephenson Featherston. He stayed and grew up with his family there and they were all members of the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Montreal.

The Wesleyan Methodist Church, Montreal later became the St. James Methodist Church and is typically known now as St. James United Church, Montreal.

As a matter of fact, there are not many records about the life of William Ralph Featherston. This might be due to his death while still a young man in his late twenties.

During the short life he lived, it is obvious that young Featherstone knew Jesus Christ as his Saviour. This was purely expressed in the word of the poem My Jesus I Love thee he wrote.

Every line of the poem is powerful and makes good sense to the body of Christ.

His Death

William Ralph Featherston bid this world farewell on the 2oth of May 1873 before his twenty-seven-years birthday. (some recorded it as 1869). Though he dies in his late twenties his resignation from sinful pleasures and love for Christ make him live forever through his poem.

What is the Story Behind the Hymn My Jesus I Love Thee?

This hymn is one of the favourite hymns to show how much we cherish Jesus. It is also one of the popular hymns known today.

There is no detailed information about this hymn but the known story behind it was very simple and straightforward. It was believed that William Ralph Featherston wrote the popular hymn as a result of his conversion experience.

During that period, the young William wrote a devotional poem known today as My Jesus I Love Thee after he had converted and truly known Jesus Christ.  This happened when he was sixteen years old.

Featherstone’s descendants were reported to still have the original copy of this beautiful hymn written in William’s boyish handwriting as a treasure.

Subsequently, he sent the poem to Ms E. Featherston Wilson, one of his aunts that lived in Los Angeles, as a mailed.

The mail got to his aunt and upon reading the powerful poem, she was fascinated with the words. In consequence of that, she recommended that the poem should be published.

This came to reality in 1862 when the hymn was published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine that year. Eventually, the hymn was published in The London Hymn Book (English Hymn Book) in 1864 as an anonymous hymn.

By 1868, the hymn had found its way into American collections like North-Western Hymn Book by Dwight Lyman Moody. The hymn is number 166 and on page 127 of Dwight Moody’s compiled hymn Book.

The Music for the Hymn My Jesus I Love Thee

Adoniram Judson Gordon

The popular tune for this hymn is Gordon. The music was written by Reverend Adoniram Judson Gordon.

Reverend Gordon found the hymn “My Jesus, I Love Thee,” as an anonymous hymn in The London Hymn Book. This happened during the compilation of new airs for his Coronation Hymnal.

Of course, he was dissatisfied with the tune the hymn was popularly sung in England when he saw it. In Reverend Adoniram Judson Gordon’s mind, the melody to such an expressive hymn should sound more emotional and expressive.

In order to get the best result, he prayed and meditated over the words of the hymn. Consequently, he was inspired and felt the new beautiful and sweet melody for the hymn in his heart.

That new and sweet melody was the tune known as Gordon and it transformed William Featherstone’s poem into an inspirational song forever.

The lyrics of My Jesus I love Thee along with the Revered Gordon’s new tune published in Gordon’s hymnal he published in 1876.

The hymnal was compiled by Gordon and S. L. Caldwell in Boston and named the Service of Song for Baptist Churches.

Since the publication of the hymnal in 1876 the hymn appeared with Gordon’s tune in nearly all hymn books. Absolutely, the tune with its simple harmony has carried the hymn into the parish of almost (if not all) denominations.

The Lyrics of The Hymn My Jesus, I Love Thee

The lyrics of the hymn are simple and truly reflect the reason we need to love Jesus because He first loved us.

Absolutely, the text resonates with the word from the book of first John, Chapter four and verse nineteen. 1 John. 4 verse19: “We love Him because He first loved us”.

Below are the lyrics of this hymn.

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.

My Jesus I Love Thee Music Sheet (Tune: Gordon)

My Jesus I Love Thee Music Sheet

Final Thought

The hymn My Jesus I Love Thee absolutely projects the love for Jesus who is known as a Saviour that loves us. This was clearly stated in the first stanza of the hymn.

Furthermore, the second stanza continues to buttress it that He first loved us and died for us on the Calvary. It even pictured the thorn he wore to set us free.

And in stanza three, the author of the hymn boldly expressed his love for Christ in life and death. And every singer of this expressive hymn will communicate and declare the same in singing.

Finally, in stanza four, he emphasized the hope of heaven and his continuous love for Him. He also proclaimed the hope he has to sing with Him in heaven.

In all, the depth of the hymn is not complicated and every stanza simply describes how he loves Christ and the extent of his love for Him.

Obviously, the lyrics of the hymn truly represent the title of the hymn: “My Jesus I Love Thee”.


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