“Take my life and let it be“
Take my life and let it be, consecrated, Lord, to Thee;
Take my hands and let them move at the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee;
Take my voice and let me sing, always, only for my King.
Take my lips and let them be filled with messages from Thee;
Take my silver and my gold, Not a mite would I withhold.
Take my moments and my days, Let them flow in endless praise;
Take my intellect and use every pow’r as Thou shalt choose.
Take my will and make it Thine, It shall be no longer mine;
Take my heart, it is Thine own, It shall be Thy royal throne.
Singlehood can be a challenging state especially in a modern society that views singlehood in various ways. Single people need to understand themselves, and they need understanding from others. By this is my father glorified, that you bear much fruit.-John 15:8. The glory of God is the single most important thing in the world to God. And therefore you glorifying God is the single most important thing you can do with your life. The hymn that we are examining today was written by a single lady who sought to glorify God in her singleness. She wrote this hymn as a consecration poem. It was first written as a poem of devotion to her God. Her name was Frances Ridley Havergal. Born on December 14, 1836, to a religious family at Astley, Worcestershire, England, Frances Ridley Havergal never married and died as a godly single woman at the age of forty-two on June 3, 1879 at Caswall Bay, Swansea, Wales. On her tombstone at Astley, Worcestershire, is engraved her favorite text,
“The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7
Her entire life was characterized by spiritual saintliness. In spite of being frail in health, she lived an active and productive life until her death. Frances Ridley Havergal was the youngest child of William Henry Havergal, a Church of England minister and noted poet and church musician who authored over 100 hymns.
At the age of 3, Miss Havergal could read; at the age of 4, she began reading and memorizing the Bible; at 7 she began writing poetry. She was eleven when her mother died after suffering a long and hard illness.
Miss Havergal was converted and committed her life to Christ in 1851, at the age of 14. She said, “I committed my soul to the Saviour … earth and heaven seemed brighter from that moment; I did trust the Lord Jesus.”
Educated at home and in private schools in Worcester, England, and in Dusseldorf, Germany (1852-53), her scholastic achievements included several modern languages, in addition to Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. Miss Havergal had a thorough training in linguistics and music and was a pianist and singer.
She was also a devoted Bible student, memorizing the New Testament as well as the Psalms, Isaiah, and the Minor Prophets.
Although highly cultured and educated she maintained a simple faith and confidence in her Lord. She lived a disciplined prayer life and it is said that she never wrote a line without first praying over it.
In 1870, her father died suddenly. After 1873, she literally carried out her now famous couplet, “Take my voice, and let me sing, Always, only, for my King.” and she sang nothing but sacred music of the love of God and His way of salvation. Her life’s mission was to sing and work for Jesus. She had both a great taste for music and a good knowledge of harmony, a natural and inherited turn for melody, a ringing touch on the piano, a beautiful and well-trained voice. These gifts she now entirely devoted to Christ; whether at home or in mixed society she always “sang for Jesus.”
About the Hymn
Her hymn of consecration, “Take My Life and Let It Be” was written in 1874. Listen to what she says regarding the circumstances that led her to write the hymn.
I went for a little visit of five days [to Areley House]. There were ten persons in the house, some unconverted and long prayed for, some converted, but not rejoicing Christians. He gave me the prayer ‘Lord, give me all in this house!’ And He just did! Before I left the house every one had got a blessing. The last night of my visit after I had retired, the governess asked me to go to the two daughters. They were crying, & then and there both of them trusted and rejoiced; it was nearly midnight. I was too happy to sleep, and passed most of the night in praise and renewal of my own consecration; and these little couplets formed themselves, and chimed in my heart one after another till they finished with ‘ever only, ALL FOR THEE!’”
Her prayer, “Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold,” in the same hymn was not lightly stated. In August, 1878, Miss Havergal wrote to a friend,
“The Lord has shown me another little step, and, of course, I have taken it with extreme delight. ‘Take my silver and my gold’ now means shipping off all my ornaments to the church Missionary House, including a jewel cabinet that is really fit for a countess, where all will be accepted and disposed of for me … Nearly fifty articles are being packed up. I don’t think I ever packed a box with such pleasure.”
Her entire life was characterized by spiritual saintliness. In spite of being frail in health, she lived an active and productive life until her death.
Couple of comments on this particular hymn:
- Take my life and let it be”” – What does let it be mean? Here I am reminded of Paul McCartney’s song Let It Be which was The Beatles last album. It made an appropriate statement about leaving problems behind and moving on in life. Those of you that loved music by the Beatles will remember these words. And when the broken-hearted people, Living in the world agree, There will be an answer, let it be. Let it be, let it be, Let it be, let it be, Yeah, there will be an answer let it be. The first step (the root) is surrender. To surrender means to relinquish possession or control to another, to submit to the power, authority, and control of another. The entire New Testament, as summarized in Philippians 2:6-8, shows us that Christ was willing to surrender His rights and prerogatives as the second person of the Trinity to the will and purpose and plan of the Father. Then, out of that surrender came the willingness to sacrifice for God’s plan no matter what the plan called for. Surrender, then, is part of the pathway to maturity and effective Christ-like ministry. The hymn writer here is literary saying from now on, Jesus take the wheel, drive my life in any direction you want. I am yours. There is no point fighting you. Take my life and let it be. We need to get to a point when we give it all to God and let it be. I surrender ALL.
- “Consecrated, Lord, to Thee” – Consecrate means to “set apart for the service of God.” We may think about a Church building being consecrated or dedicated to the Lord’s work, but the Bible reminds us that our bodies are the “temple of God.” In the Old Testament, the priests did many things to consecrate the temple and the items used in the temple. Those items had a specific purpose and weren’t to be used haphazardly or irreverently. The author reminds us in this hymn that our hands, feet, voices, mind, etc. can all be “set apart” and used in service to the Lord. Whether it is the “hands” the help an elderly person on a daily basis, the “feet” that carry the gospel around the world, or the “voice” that sings the mighty power of God, all of our bodies can be used to further the Kingdom if we will consecrate them to the Lord’s service.
- Let my moments and my days: – Have you ever asked yourself – how long is a moment? I remember hearing this question a long time ago, and do remember the answer…which surprised me. Anyone want to wager a guess? Before I did any research I thought a moment was less than a second. Now I know I was wrong. A moment is actually a medieval unit of time equal to 1/40 hour or 1.5 minutes or 90 seconds. Of course now it means a short period of time.An “instant”! A “moment” is the infinitesimally small “instant” of time that you pass through on your way to your next moment. That’s why life is called “living moment to moment” A moment, in context with time, is an indefinitely short period of time. Sometimes defined as zero seconds long. So zero seconds would be the actual measure. I thought it was really funny in how completely short it is. My guess (prior to checking out Wikipedia) was: an indefinite amount of time between a second and a minute. Wikipedia says I’m wrong. Do you? Now, the hymn writer says God should take even the moments of my life. Leaving me with zero time for my own desires. Friends, how much are you willing surrender to God? Sundays only? Some days only? Some of the things? The hymn writer says even the moments, God take them all.
- “Let them flow in ceaseless praise“- The word flow referes e(esp. of a fluid) to move along or out steadily and continuously in a current or stream, without resistance, yielding as nature dictates. Ceaseless means no ending. In other words let my moments and my days without resistance go on praising you. Nothing will I hold back.
- “Swift and Beautiful for thee” – I like the word “swift” versus the word “hasty.” Swift connotes to me immediate action and responsiveness. Hasty, on the other had, can be defined as “unduly quick,” “rash” or “impatient.” We should respond to the Spirit’s leading immediately. If we know it is the Spirit urging us, we shouldn’t delay but be “swift” to respond. However, we should balance this with tempering our desire to do what we want to do without confirmation from the Lord. I wish I had the formula for always balancing this out. But there have been times, I have been unresponsive, and there have been times when I have gotten ahead of the Lord. If, however, our prayer is like the author of this hymn and we yield our will and our lives to His, I am confident He knows how to lead us.
- “Not a mite would I withhold” – This phrase is a passing reference to the story of the widow’s mite in Mark chapter 12. Jesus commended the widow and stated that she had given more than the all of the rich who had given their offerings. His statement was as follows in the NIV – “They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” The “Message” version reads as follows “The truth is that this poor widow gave more to the collection than all the others put together. All the others gave what they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford—she gave her all.” The question for us is “Are we giving to the Lord out of our abundance, and only when we have an abundance, or are we giving our all out of devotion and love for Him?” Another good question to ask yourself is “Are there things in your life that you are withholding from the Lord, or things that you refuse to let Him rule over?”
Let me close by saying that this hymn reminds us that if we will surrender our life (our will, our bodies, our finances, etc.) completely to the Lord, then we can be right in the center of God’s will. My prayer for you, and for myself, is that we will offer our lives completely to the Lord, and let Him do as He pleases. Then we can rest in His will, “live long, and prosper.”
Here are some important quotes about surrendering.
The degree of blessing enjoyed by any man will correspond exactly with the completeness of God’s victory over him. A. W. Tozer-The Works of A. W. Tozer
I surrendered unto Him all there was of me; everything! Then for the first time I realized what it meant to have real power. Kathryn Kuhlman-Website
God often takes a course for accomplishing His purposes directly contrary to what our narrow views would prescribe. He brings a death upon our feelings, wishes, and prospects when He is about to give us the desire of our hearts. John Newton Brief Biography