1834–1911
Catherine Hankey
portrait

January 12, 1834, Clapham, Middlesex, England.

May 9, 1911, Westminster, London, England.

Daughter of banker Thomas Hankey, Katherine (known to her friends as Kate) belonged to an evangelical group known as the Clapham Sect, led by William Wilberforce; the group was mainly known for its anti-slavery and pro-missionary stances. While still a teenager, Hankey taught Sunday school for girls. Later, she traveled to South Africa to be a nurse, and to help her invalid brother.

In her early 30’s, Hankey contracted a severe illness. During her protracted recovery, she wrote a long poem about Jesus. It was in two parts, 50 stanzas total (see below), asking about Him, and the second answering the question. I Love to Tell the Story and Tell Me the Old, Old Story both come from this poem.

As of 1881, Hankey was living with her unmarried brother Reginald at 78 Ebury Street, London.

Part 1—THE STORY WANTED

Tell me the old, old story,
Of unseen things above—
Of Jesus and His glory,
Of Jesus and His love.

Tell me the story simply,
As to a little child;
For I am weak and weary,
And helpless, and defiled.

Tell me the story slowly,
That I may take it in—
That wonderful redemption,
God’s remedy for sin!

Tell me the story often,
For I forget so soon!
The early dew of morning
Has passed away at noon!

Tell me the story softly,
With earnest tones and grave;
Remember, I’m the sinner
Whom Jesus came to save.

Tell me the story always,
If you would really be,
In any time of trouble,
A comforter to me.

Tell me the same old story
When you have cause to fear
That this world’s empty glory
Is costing me too dear.

Yes, and when that world’s glory
Shall dawn upon my soul,
Tell me the old, old story,
Christ Jesus makes thee whole!

Part 2—THE STORY TOLD

You ask me for the story
Of unseen things above—
Of Jesus and His glory,
Of Jesus and His love.

You want the old, old story,
And nothing else will do!
Indeed I cannot wonder,
It always seems so new!

I often wish that someone
Would tell it me, each day;
I never should get tired
Of what they had to say.

But I am wasting moments!
Oh! how shall I begin
To tell the old, old story,
How Jesus saves from sin?

Listen, and I will tell you;
God help both you and me,
And make the old, old story
His Message unto thee!

Once, in a pleasant garden,
God placed a happy pair;
And all within was peaceful,
And all around was fair.

But oh! they disobeyed Him!
The one thing He denied
They longed for, took and tasted;
They ate it, and—they died!

Yet, in His love and pity,
At once the Lord declared
How man, though lost and ruined,
Might after all be spared!

For one of Eve’s descendants,
Not sinful, like the rest,
Should spoil the work of Satan,
And man be saved and blest!

He should be son of Adam,
But Son of God as well,
And bring a full salvation
From sin, and death, and hell.

Hundreds of years were over;
Adam and Eve had died,
The following generation,
And many more beside.

At last, some shepherds, watching
Beside their flocks, at night,
Were startled in the darkness
By strange and heavenly light.

One of the holy angels
Had come from Heav’n above,
To tell the true, true story,
Of Jesus and His love.

He came to bring glad tidings,
You need not, must not, fear;
For Christ, your new-born Savior,
Lies in the village near!

And many other angels
Took up the story then—
To God on high be glory,
Good-will and peace to men.

And was it true—that story?
They went at once to see,
And found Him in a manger,
And knew that it was He.

He whom the Father promised,
So many ages past,
Had come to save poor sinners;
Yes, He had come at last!

He was content to do it,
To seek and save the lost,
Although He knew beforehand—
Knew all that it would cost.

He lived a life most holy;
His every thought was love,
And every action showed it,
To man, and God above.

His path in life was lowly;
He was a working Man:
Who knows the poor man’s trials
So well as Jesus can?

His last three years were lovely!
He could no more be hid;
And time and strength would fail me
To tell the good He did.

He gave away no money,
For He had none to give;
But He had power of healing,
And made dead people live.

He did kind things so kindly!
It seemed His heart’s delight
To make poor people happy,
From morning until night!

He always seemed at leisure
For every one who came;
However tired or busy,
They found Him just the same.

He heard each tale of sorrow
With an attentive ear.
And took away each burden
Of suffering, sin, or fear.

He was a Man of Sorrows!
And when He gave relief,
He gave it like a brother,
Acquainted with the grief.

Such was the Man Christ Jesus!
The Friend of sinful man!
But hush! the tale grows sadder,
I’ll tell it—if I can!

This gentle, holy Jesus,
Without a spot or stain,
By wicked hands was taken,
And crucified, and slain!

Look! look! if you can bear it—
Look at your dying Lord!
Stand near the cross and watch Him:
Behold the Lamb of God!

His hands and feet are piercèd,
He cannot hide His face;
And cruel men stand staring,
In crowds, about the place.

They laugh at Him and mock Him!
They tell Him to come down,
And leave that cross of suffering,
And change it for a crown.

Why did He bear their mockings?
Was He the Mighty God?
And could He have destroyed them
With one almighty word?

Yes, Jesus could have done it;
But let me tell you why
He would not use His power,
But chose to stay and die.

He had become our surety;
And what we could not pay,
He paid instead, and for us,
On that one dreadful day.

For our sins He suffered;
For our sins He died;
And not for ours only,
But all the world’s beside!

And now, the work is finished!
The sinner’s debt is paid!
Because on Christ the Righteous
The sin of all was laid.

Oh, wonderful redemption!
God’s remedy for sin!
The door of Heav’n is open,
And you may enter in!

For God released our surety,
To show the work was done;
And Jesus’ resurrection
Declared the victory won!

And now, He has ascended,
And sits upon the throne,
To be a Prince and Savior,
And claim us for His own.

But when He left His people,
He promised them to send
The Comforter, to teach them,
And guide them to the end.

And that same Holy Spirit
Is with us to this day,
And ready now to teach us
The new and living way.

This is the old, old story!
Say, do you take it in
This wonderful redemption,
God’s remedy for sin?

Do you at heart believe it?
Do you believe it’s true,
And meant for every sinner,
And, therefore, meant for you?

Then take this great salvation,
For Jesus loves to give!
Believe! and you receive it!
Believe! and you shall live!

And if this simple message
Has now brought peace to you,
Make known the old, old story,
For others need it, too.

Let everybody see it,
That Christ has made you free;
And if it sets them longing,
Say, Jesus died for thee!

Soon, soon, our eyes shall see Him!
And, in our home above,
We’ll sing the old, old story
Of Jesus and His love!

  1. Advent Tells Us, Christ Is Near
  2. I Love to Tell the Story
  3. I Saw Him Leave His Father’s Throne
  4. Tell Me the Old, Old Story