Scripture Verse

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

Introduction

illustration
Deposition
Fra Bartolommeo (1472–1517)

Words: Fran­ces R. Hav­er­gal, 1859.

Music: Ke­no­sis Phi­lip P. Bliss, Sun­shine for Sun­day Schools (Chi­ca­go, Il­li­nois, and Cin­cin­na­ti, Ohio: George F. Root & Sons and John Church, 1873), num­ber 56 (🔊 pdf nwc).

Alternate Tune:

portrait
Frances R. Havergal
(1836–1879)

Origin of the Hymn

Fifteen years after 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

Lyrics

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.