The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.@Mark 10:45
illustration
Deposition
Fra Bartolommeo (1472–1517)

Frances R. Havergal, 1859.

Kenosis Philip P. Bliss, in Sunshine for Sunday Schools, 1873 (🔊 pdf nwc).

portrait
Frances R. Havergal (1836–1879)

Fifteen years afer this hymn was written Miss Havergal said about it: Yes, I gave My life for thee, is mine, and perhaps it will interest you to hear how nearly it went into the fire instead of nearly all over the world. It was, I think, the very first thing I wrote which could be called a hymn—written when I was a young girl, in 1859. I did not half realize what I was writing about. I was following very far off, always doubting and fearing. I think I had come to Jesus with a trembling faith, but it was a coming in the press and behind, never seeing His face or feeling sure that He loved me. I scribbled these words in a few minutes on the back of a circular, and then read them over and thought, Well, this is not poetry, anyhow; I won’t trouble to write this out. I reached out my hand to put it in the fire, when a sudden impulse made me draw it back, and I put it, crumpled and singed, in my pocket. Soon after I went to see a dear old woman in the almshouse. She began talking to me, as she always did, about her dear Saviour, and I thought I would see if she, a simple old woman, would care for these verses, which I felt sure nobody else would even care to read. I read them to her, and she was so delighted with them that I copied them out and kept them. And now the Master has sent them out in all directions, and I have heard of their being a real blessing to many.

Miss Havergal showed the hymn some time afterward to her father, and he wrote a melody especially for it. But it is the tune which Mr. Bliss composed for it that became popular in America.

Sankey, pp. 160–61

I gave My life for thee,
My precious blood I shed,
That thou might ransomed be,
And raised up from the dead.
I gave, I gave My life for thee,
What hast thou given for Me?
I gave, I gave My life for thee,
What hast thou given for Me?

My Father’s house of light,
My glory circled throne
I left for earthly night,
For wanderings sad and lone;
I left, I left it all for thee,
Hast thou left aught for Me?
I left, I left it all for thee,
Hast thou left aught for Me?

I suffered much for thee,
More than thy tongue can tell,
Of bitterest agony,
To rescue thee from hell.
I’ve borne, I’ve borne it all for thee,
What hast thou borne for Me?
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?
I bring, I bring rich gifts to thee,
What hast thou brought to Me?

This hymn was recast in 1871 in Church Hymns, under the title Thy Life Was Given for Me:

Thy life was given for me;
Thy blood, O Lord, was shed,
That I might ransomed be,
And quickened from the dead.
Thy life was given for me;
What have I given for Thee?
Thy life was given for me;
What have I given for Thee?

Long years were spent for me,
In weariness and woe,
That through eternity
Thy glory I might know.
Long years were spent for me;
Have I spent one for Thee?
Long years were spent for me;
Have I spent one for Thee?

And Thou hast brought to me,
Down from Thy home above,
Salvation full and free,
Thy pardon and Thy love.
Great gifts Thou broughtest me;
What have I brought to Thee?
Great gifts Thou broughtest me;
What have I brought to Thee?

O let my life be given,
My years for Thee be spent,
World fetters all be riven,
And joy with suffering blent!
Thou gavest Thyself for me;
I give myself to Thee.
Thou gavest Thyself for me;
I give myself to Thee.