Lyrics: Palmer Hartsough
Music: James H. Fillmore
I am resolved no longer to linger,
Charmed by the world’s delight,
Things that are higher, things that are nobler,
These have allured my sight.
I will hasten to Him, hasten so glad and free;
Jesus, greatest, highest, I will come to Thee.
I will hasten, hasten to Him, hasten so glad and free;
Jesus, Jesus, greatest, highest, I will come to Thee.
I am resolved to go to the Savior,
Leaving my sin and strife;
He is the true One, He is the just One,
He hath the words of life.
I am resolved to follow the Savior,
Faithful and true each day;
Heed what He sayeth, do what He willeth,
He is the living Way.
I am resolved to enter the kingdom
Leaving the paths of sin;
Friends may oppose me, foes may beset me,
Still will I enter in.
This hymn demonstrates the attitude of resolution to go to Jesus because He has the words of eternal life. This hymn is often used as a New Year resolution hymn or sometimes when inviting people to obey the gospel. But today, I want to use the song to invite you to become better Christians.
The text of this hymn was written by Palmer Hartsough, who was born on May 7, 1844, at Redford, MI, the son of Wells and Thankful Palmer Hartsough. His father was active in the Michigan Baptist Convention. In 1856, the family moved to Plymouth, MI, and Palmer attended both Kalamazoo College and Michigan State Normal. While in college, he became interested in music and began teaching singing schools in rural areas. During the following ten years, he travelled throughout Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee as an itinerant singing school teacher.
Around the year 1877, Hartsough settled in Rock Island, IL, where he opened a music studio and served as music director at the local Baptist Church. His poetic ability attracted the attention of the Fillmore Brothers Publishing Company of Cincinnati, OH. So in 1893, Hartsough moved to Cincinnati to work with the Fillmore brothers, providing texts for their music. The tune (Endeavor) for this particular hymn was composed by James Henry Fillmore (1849-1936) This hymn was a collaborative effort of Palmer Hartsough (words) and James Fillmore Sr. (music). It was originally written for a Christian Endeavor convention in San Francisco, and was sung by Christians all the way from Ohio to California. Mr. Fillmore had originally written some words, but asked Hartsough to re-write lyrics to have a more widespread use.
During his ten years at Cincinnati, Hartsough served as music director for the Ninth St. Baptist Church. He was a prolific author of texts for hymns, producing more than a thousand of them, such as “Jesus Is Calling, Calling, Calling” and “O Savior Mine.” Leaving the Fillmore firm in 1903, he engaged in full-time evangelistic song leading, but later, in 1906 became a Baptist minister. In 1914 he began work with the Baptist Church in Ontario, MI, at the age of seventy, and served there for thirteen years. Upon his retirement in 1927, he returned to Plymouth, MI, where he remained until his death at the age of 88 on Oct., 1932. He never married, but was very close to his two sisters and wrote them a weekly letter for many years.
Couple of comments on the lyrics:
I Am Resolved: “Resolve” means to “decide firmly on a course of action” (Oxford University Press). So, we say that a person who’s resolved to do something has made a resolution. In other words, they’ve made a firm decision. As Christians, we make firm decisions regarding our commitment to God. We also make firm decisions regarding our growth and progress as a Christian. Paul constantly tried to improve in His service to God (Phil. 3:7-14). And we, as faithful Christians, also strive to improve in our service. Making firm decisions (resolutions) helps us make these changes in our lives.
Resolved Not To Linger: When we sing “I am Resolved,” we proclaim we’ve decided not to linger. How resolved are you not to linger? Are you diligent? Are you “applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love” (2 Pet. 1:5-7)? Are you “diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you” (2 Pet. 1:10)?
Or, are you lingering?
Lingering Christians: “Linger” means to be slow or reluctant. God’s word teaches us not to linger when it comes to changing and becoming a more fruitful Christian. Rather than lingering, we are to be “not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord” (Rom. 12:11). Likewise, Jesus strongly warms Christians who are lingering. To Christians who had left their first love, Jesus says: “‘Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place — unless you repent'” (Rev. 2:5).
And to lukewarm Christians, Jesus says: “‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth‘” (Rev. 3:15-16). “‘Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent‘” (Rev. 3:19).
“Things that are higher, things that are nobler” – In Phillipians, Paul gives us a list of things that we ought to think on as followers of Christ. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Things that are higher and nobler should be things that “allure our sight.” Not the things of this world – wealth, fame, power, or prestige.
“He hath the words of life” – In John chapter 6, the Bible records a somewhat unusual occurrence – “disciples” leaving Jesus. Starting in verse 66 the Bible says “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.” Peter recognized that there was no one else that had the words of eternal life except Christ. Peter knew that there was no where else to go to get what they received from Jesus. In verse 69, Peter said “And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” Peter knew that Jesus was truly the Messiah, the Savior, the Son of the Most High and that all other roads would leave him empty and unfulfilled.
“Taught by the Bible, led by the Spirit” – I really like the combination of these two verbs – taught and led. I believe that the Bible is God’s word. But I also know that people can manipulate the Bible’s words to make it say what they want it to say sometimes. We must take the truth found in Scripture and let the Holy Spirit illuminate it, and allow the Spirit to lead us. The other extreme is being Spirit led, and not Word centred. We cannot use being “led by the Spirit” to alleviate the necessity of the Word in our life. We don’t have to wonder if the Spirit is leading us down certain paths if the Word clearly tells us that the path is sinful. This balance is critical in leading a Christ-like life.