Author: Annie S. Hawks – 1835 – 1918 Music: Robert Lowry – 1826 – 1899
I need Thee, O I need Thee!
Ev’ry hour I need Thee;
O bless me now, my Saviour!
I come to Thee.
I need Thee ev’ry hour;
Stay Thou nearby;
Temptations lose their pow’r
When Thou art nigh.
I need Thee ev’ry hour,
In joy or pain;
Come quickly and abide,
Or life is vain.
I need Thee ev’ry hour;
Teach me Thy will,
And Thy rich promises
In me fulfill.
I need Thee ev’ry hour,
Most Holy One;
O make me Thine indeed,
Thou blessed Son!
The Hymn Story:
One of my favourite hymns is “I Need Thee Every Hour.” It was a personal prayer for the hymn writer and it is so for many of us too. Personal experience leads me to know that my sense of well-being is directly proportionate to the quality of my prayer life.
“I do not know what I would have done without God or if it were not for the Lord, I do not know what would have become of me”. These words are often heard from Christians who have passed through difficult times. It is true, God helps and comforts us in our trials and that is why you will notice that a number of the hymn stories that we have looked at were written out of very trying moments and experiences of the children of God and how their afflictions have been the material from which great hymns were written. However, here’s one which came into being through completely different and happier circumstances. It makes a refreshing and interesting change. A busy housewife during one of her happy moments hurriedly wrote the words of this song. She had no idea at the time that the words she was putting together would one day become a source of her own comfort when the time of sorrow came.
Annie Sherwood Hawks born on 28th May 1835 and married at 24 joined together with her husband the church whose pastor was the noted hymn writer and composer, Dr. Robert S. Lowry who immediately recognised Mrs Hawks’s talent for writing and encouraged her to use it. It is said that he actually offered her a challenge.
‘If you’ll write the words,’ he said, I’ll write the music,’ and he was as good as his word. “I Need Thee Every Hour”, was written in April 1872 and is thought to have been based on the exhortation of Jesus in John 15 verses 4 and 5.
A short time before her death, on January 3rd 1918, Mrs Hawks gave the full background story. I quote her own words.
‘I remember well the circumstances under which I wrote the hymn. It was a bright June day, and I became so filled with the sense of the nearness of my Master that I began to wonder how anyone could live without Him, in either joy or pain. Suddenly, the words I need Thee every hour, flashed into my mind, and very quickly the thought had full possession of me.
Seating myself by the open windows, I caught up my pencil and committed the words to paper – almost as they are today. A few months later Dr. Robert Lowry composed the tune Need, for my hymn and also added the refrain.
For myself, the hymn, at its writing, was prophetic rather than expressive of my own experiences, for it was wafted out to the world on the wings of love and joy, instead of under the stress of great personal sorrow, with which it has often been associated.
At first I did not understand why the hymn so greatly touched the throbbing heart of humanity. Years later, however, under the shadow of a great loss, I came to understand something of the comforting power of the words 1 had been permitted to give out to others in my hours of sweet serenity and peace.’
It must have given the talented lady great satisfaction to write something which has been such a blessing to so many. I like the fact the author communicates a desperate, continual need for the Lord when she writes “I need Thee, O, I need thee; every hour I need Thee” because when we don’t recognize this daily dependence on Him, we run the risk of forgetting Him.
One of the blessings of a victorious Christian life is knowing the closeness of our Lord in every circumstance in life. Like Annie Hawks, it is so important that we develop strong spiritual lives during the peaceful hours in order that we will be able to be victorious when difficulties come, which they surely will to everyone at some time.
Beloved Christian, will you consciously practice walking close to the Saviour each hour so that whether there are times of joy or grief, He will be there to meet every need. Sing as you go meditating on the fact ~
“I need Thee, O I need Thee, Every hour I need Thee! O bless me now, my Saviour; I come to Thee!”
A Couple of Comments on the lyrics
- “Temptations lose their power when thou art nigh” – In James 4:7, the Bible says “Resist the Devil and he will flee.” As with many commands in the Bible, this is often easier said than done. However, James does give us some practical insight about how to resist temptation in the surrounding verses. The beginning of verse 7 says “Submit yourselves, then, to God…” When we humble ourselves, hand over the reigns to God and submit our will to His leadership, we can echo the phrase in the Lord’s prayer “lead us not into temptation” and this is the first step in resisting temptations. We have to submit, and let Him lead. Secondly, in verse 8, James instructs us to “Come near to God, and He will come near to you.” When we draw close to Him and our focus is on Him, temptations do “lose their power” as He comes nigh. There’s a phrase in another old hymn that states “Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.” We sometimes think of those things as just material things, but I think it also applies to temptations. Temptations also grow strangely dim in the light of His amazing grace.
- “In joy or pain” – This is my favorite line in this hymn. Initially, it seems rather odd though. Needing God during a time of pain – very easy to understand because I have been there, done that. But during a time of joy, why would we need Him then? Maybe it is to keep us humble and remind us that life has its seasons, and we won’t always experience times of joy. Maybe we need Him to celebrate with us. Don’t you want your close family members around during those joyous times of life? Experiencing both the highs and lows of life are better when experiencing them with someone close to you. Or maybe we just need to recognize that “Every good and perfect gift is from above” and understand that He is the source of our joy, and thank Him for it. I hope that we realize, whether in joy or pain, that we need Him. I hope that we also realize He is there for us when we need Him.
I came across an interesting prayer by a man called Howard Thurman and it says what I’d like to share so very eloquently. Read this and may it bless your heart.
O God, I Need Thee
“I Need Thy Sense of Time
Always I have an underlying anxiety about things.
Sometimes I am in a hurry to achieve my ends
And am completely without patience. It is hard for me
To realize that some growth is slow,
That all processes are not swift. I cannot always discriminate
Between what takes time to develop and what can be rushed,
Because my sense of time is dulled.
I measure things in terms of happenings.
O to understand the meaning of perspective
That I may do all things with a profound sense of leisure—of time.
I Need Thy Sense of Order
The confusion of the details of living
Is sometimes overwhelming. The little things
Keep getting in my way providing ready-made
Excuses for failure to do and be
What I know I ought to do and be.
Much time is spent on things that are not very important
While significant things are put into an insignificant place
In my scheme of order. I must unscramble my affairs
So that my life will become order. O God, I need
Thy sense of order.
I Need Thy Sense of the Future
Teach me to know that life is ever
On the side of the future.
Keep alive in me the forward look, the high hope,
The onward surge. Let me not be frozen
Either by the past or the present.
Grant me, O patient [God], Thy sense of the future
Without which all life would sicken and die.”