I GAVE MY LIFE FOR THEE
Frances R. Havergal, 1836–1879
And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again. (2 Corinthians 5:15)
A vivid painting of Christ, wearing His crown of thorns as He stands before Pilate and the mob, is displayed in the art museum of Dusseldorf, Germany. Under the painting by Sternberg are the words, “This have I done for thee; what hast thou done for Me?” When Frances Havergal viewed the painting during a visit to Germany, she was deeply moved. As she gazed at it in tears, she scribbled down the lines of this hymn text on a scrap of paper. After returning to her home in England, she felt the poetry was so poor that she tossed the lines into a stove. The scorched scrap of paper amazingly floated out of the flames and landed on the floor, where it was found by Frances’ father, Rev. William Havergal, an Anglican minister, a noted poet, and a church musician. He encouraged her to preserve the poem by composing the first melody for it. The present tune was composed for this text by the noted American gospel songwriter, Philip P. Bliss, and was first published in 1873.
When Christ cried out on the cross, “It is finished,” victory over sin was won. All that is required of each of us is to personally appropriate that finished work. To show our gratefulness, however, our response should be, “Thank you, Lord, for giving your life for me. Now I want to live for You and serve You till the end of my days.” This was the reaction of Miss Havergal, known as the “consecration poet,” whose entire life was characterized by simple faith and spiritual saintliness. In spite of frail health, she lived an active life until her death at the age of 43. She wrote many beautifully phrased hymn texts, including “Take My Life and Let It Be” and “Like a River Glorious.”
I gave My life for thee; My precious blood I shed that thou might’st ransomed be and quickened form the dead; I gave, I gave My life for thee—what hast thou giv’n for Me?
I suffered much for thee, more than thy tongue can tell, of bitt’rest agony to rescue thee from hell; I’ve borne, I’ve borne it all for thee—what hast thou borne for Me?
And I have brought to thee, down from My home above, salvation full and free, my pardon and My love; I bring, I bring rich gifts to thee—what hast thou brought to Me?
For Today: Psalm 116:12-14; John 19:30; Romans 12:1, 2; Galatians 2:20
Allow your soul to respond in a new and fresh dedication to God as you reflect on all that Christ has done for you. Allow these musical questions to motivate your thinking—