Scripture Verse

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

Introduction

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).

portrait
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

Lyrics

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.

Refrain

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.

Refrain

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.

Refrain

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.

Refrain