Scripture Verse

I will love Thee, O Lord, my strength. Psalm 18:1

Introduction

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John Wesley
1703–1791

Words: Jo­hann Scheff­ler, Heil­i­ge Seel­en­lust 1657 (Ich will dich lie­ben, meine Stärke). Trans­lat­ed from Ger­man to Eng­lish by John Wes­ley, Hymns and Sac­red Po­ems, 1739.

Music: Ad­mah Lo­well Ma­son, Car­mi­na Sac­ra (Bos­ton, Mas­sa­chu­setts: John H. Wil­kins & Ri­chard B. Car­ter, 1841), page 42 (🔊 pdf nwc).

Alternate Tunes:

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Lowell Mason
1792–1872

The Rev. Will­iam Ar­thur gives a de­scrip­tion of Gi­de­on Ou­se­ley, the great Iri­sh ev­an­gel­ist, which, he says, pre­sents him ex­act­ly as he had oft­en heard him spok­en of by those in whose house Ou­se­ley stayed. It is from the pen of the Rev. John Hughes.

When he was a boy at home, he says, ‘On a raw No­vem­ber ev­en­ing Ou­se­ley preached at the cor­ner of the street in which we re­sid­ed at Port­ar­ling­ton. Af­ter preach­ing, he came in­to our house for some re­fresh­ment, and to wait un­til his time came again to preach in the cha­pel.

When he took a seat in the lit­tle back apart­ment it was dusk. A turf fire played fit­ful­ly, and there was no ot­her light. I crouched in an ob­scure cor­ner, and Ou­se­ley thought him­self alone. He took off his cloak and hat, ejac­u­lated My bless­ed Mas­ter! and wiped the per­spir­a­tion from his head and face.

He then poked the fire, and spread him­self out be­fore it. Af­ter mus­ing a min­ute, he wept. Tear af­ter tear rolled down his rug­ged cheeks. He re­peat­ed, in a low but dis­tinct voice, the first two vers­es of the hymn, Thee will I love, my strength, my tow­er. Af­ter re­peat­ing the line, Ah, why did I so late Thee know, he smote his fore­head with his big hand, and fin­ished the verse.’

Telford, p. 266

Lyrics

Thee will I love, my strength, my tow­er,
Thee will I love, my joy, my crown,
Thee will I love with all my pow­er,
In all Thy works, and Thee alone;
Thee will I love, till the pure fire
Fill my whole soul with chaste de­sire.

Ah, why did I so late Thee know,
Thee, love­li­er than the sons of men!
Ah, why did I no soon­er go
To Thee, the on­ly ease in pain!
Ashamed, I sigh, and in­ly mourn,
That I so late to Thee did turn.

In dark­ness will­ing­ly I strayed,
I sought Thee, yet from Thee I roved;
Far wide my wan­der­ing thoughts were spread,
Thy crea­tures more than Thee I loved;
And now if more at length I see,
’Tis through Thy light and comes from Thee.

I thank Thee, un­cre­at­ed sun,
That Thy bright beams on me have shined;
I thank Thee, who hast ov­er­thrown
My foes, and healed my wound­ed mind;
I thank Thee, whose en­liv­en­ing voice
Bids my freed heart in Thee rejoice.

Uphold me in the doub­tful race,
Nor suf­fer me again to stray;
Strengthen my feet with stea­dy pace
Still to press for­ward in Thy way;
My soul and flesh, O Lord of might,
Fill, sa­ti­ate, with Thy hea­ve­nly light.

Give to mine eyes re­fresh­ing tears,
Give to my heart chaste, hal­lowed fires,
Give to my soul, with fi­li­al fears,
The love that all Hea­ven’s host in­spires;
That all my pow­ers, with all their might,
In Thy sole glo­ry may unite.

Thee will I love, my joy, my crown,
Thee will I love, my Lord, my God;
Thee will I love, be­neath Thy frown,
Or smile, Thy scep­ter, or Thy rod;
What though my flesh and heart de­cay?
Thee shall I love in end­less day!