By Thoro Harris (1873-1955)
Who can cheer the heart like Jesus
By His presence all divine
True and tender, pure and precious
O, how blest to call Him mine
All that thrills my soul is Jesus
He is more than life to me
And the fairest of ten thousand
In my blessed Lord I see
Love of Christ so freely given
Grace of God beyond degree
Mercy higher than the heavens
Deeper than the deepest sea
What a wonderful redemption
Never can a mortal know
How my sin, though red like crimson
Can be whiter than the snow
Every need His hand supplying
Every good in Him I see
On His strength divine relying
He is all in all to me
By the crystal flowing river
With the ransomed I will sing
And forever and forever
Praise and glorify the King
In 1931, Thoro Harris penned the words of a great hymn and proclaimed that Jesus is all that should thrill our heart. This same hymn has been a favourite hymn of all time for man y since then. I don’t know why I gravitated toward that hymn as a teenager, but ever since I sang it one Scripture Union camp meeting with my childhood friends Elsie, Annie, Gift, Lorene, Barbara among others, its lyrics have spoken to me over and over.
Most of all, this hymn this week became alive again in me as Enid and I have been reflecting on the goodness of the Lord to us. We are both first borns in our families and in this part of the world we live in it means a lot of responsibilities. We have growing up children and many extended family responsibilities to the extent that only God knows how we make it from day to day. But amazingly, we trusted Him to come through for us and true to His word; He has supplied all of our needs according to His riches in glory- (Philippians 4:19). All that we have needed (not wanted), His hand has provided. Praise His name. And so we can say with Thoro, All that thrills my soul is Jesus.
Thoro Harris, the author of today’s hymn, was born in Washington D.C. in 1874. Though nothing is known of his childhood and youth, we pick up his career in Michigan at Battle Creek College, a Seventh-Day Adventist school. He was a gifted songwriter and after graduation moved to Boston to enter the publishing business. In 1902 he produced the first of dozens of hymnals and song collections. In those days Christian publishing was big. As a result of his success, Harris was invited by Peter Bilhorn to move to Chicago. Bilhorn was active in Christian music, working with evangelists Billy Sunday, D.L. Moody, and George Stebbins.
Thoro went to work for The Glad Tidings Publishing Company as an editor, where he continued to compose and compile a number of works. He became well-known in Chicago because he was always seen with a canvas bag full of handbooks for sale. Somewhere along the way he became affiliated with the Pentecostal movement. In 1920 he went to Los Angeles to compile a hymnal titled, “Pentecostal Revivalist” for infamous evangelist, Aimee Semple McPherson. In 1926 he wrote “I Love Him Better Every Day.” He moved to Eureka Springs, Arkansas in 1932 to work for the publishing arm of the Oneness Pentecostal Organization. He died there in 1955.
Not a bad resume’ for anyone, correct? But consider this. Thoro Harris was born only 11 years after the Civil War ended. Think about what society was going through in those days following the abolition of slavery. What makes his accomplishments even more significant? Thoro was a black man! Today’s hymn connects him to the Nazarene Church because even though he wrote it in 1917, in 1931 the publishing rights were sold to Lillenas Publishing, which became the Nazarene Publishing House. It isn’t known what his motivation for writing it but we can all agree with him that . . . Who can cheer the heart like Jesus, By His presence all divine? True and tender, pure and precious,
O how blest to call Him mine!
Oh may we earnestly desire to have all that thrills our souls be Jesus! May we view all this world has to offer as paling in comparison to walking with our Saviour?
“All the thrills my soul is Jesus,
He is more than life to me…”
Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever…But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works.” Psalm 73:25-26,28