Scripture Verse

Tell them, thus saith the Lord God. Ezekiel 3:11


Words: A. Ka­the­rine Han­key, 1866. The lyr­ics are si­mi­lar to those of I Love to Tell the Sto­ry. Both come from Han­key’s po­em The Old, Old Sto­ry.

Music: Evan­gel W. How­ard Doane, 1867 (🔊 pdf nwc).

W. Howard Doane (1832–1915)

Origin of the Song

I wrote the first part to­ward the end of Ja­nu­ary 1866. I was un­well at the time, just re­cov­er­ing from a se­vere ill­ness, and the first stan­za real­ly in­di­cates my state of health, for I was lit­er­al­ly “weak and wea­ry.”

When I had writ­ten the first part, which con­sist­ed of eight stan­zas of four lines each, I laid it aside, and it was not un­til the fol­low­ing No­vem­ber that I com­pleted the whole hymn.

Blanchard, p. 89

This ex­cel­lent hymn by Miss Han­key, of Lon­don, has been tran­slat­ed in­to ma­ny lang­uag­es, and has been set to sev­er­al tunes. Dr. Doane has this to say re­gard­ing the mu­sic by which it has become po­pu­lar, and the oc­ca­sion on which he com­posed it:

“In 1867 I was at­tend­ing the In­ter­na­tion­al Con­ven­tion of the Young Men’s Chris­tian As­so­cia­tion in Mon­tre­al. Among those pre­sent was Major-Ge­ne­ral Rus­sell, then in com­mand of the Eng­lish force dur­ing the Fen­i­an ex­cite­ment. He arose in the meet­ing and re­cit­ed the words of this song from a sheet of fool­scap paper—tears stream­ing down his bronz­ed cheeks as he read.

I wrote the mu­sic for the song one hot af­ter­noon while on the stage coach be­tween the Glen Falls House and the Craw­ford House in the White Moun­tains. That ev­en­ing we sang it in the par­lors of the ho­tel. We thought it pret­ty, al­though we scarce­ly an­ti­ci­pat­ed the po­pu­la­ri­ty which was sub­se­quen­tly ac­cord­ed it.

Sankey, pp. 256–57


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 old, old story,
Tell me the old, old story,
Tell me the old, old story,
Of Je­sus and His love.

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
Is dawning on my soul,
Tell me the old, old story:
Christ Je­sus makes thee whole.