Friday, November 30, 2012

More Love to Thee


SONG WRITER: Elizabeth Prentiss                    

MUSIC WRITER: William Doane                    

WHEN WRITTEN: 1870

HYMN HISTORY: This hymn was written by Elizabeth Payson Prentiss.  Elizabeth suffered from poor health most of her life, but showed promise as a writer even as a young girl.  She began submitting prose and verse at age 16 to a popular national magazine for young people, and the magazine published several of her submissions.  During her lifetime, she wrote five books, one of which became a best-seller.  Elizabeth was the daughter of a clergyman, and she married a Presbyterian clergyman, Dr. George L. Prentiss, pastor of the Mercer Street Presbyterian Church in New York City –– and later homiletics professor at Union Theological Seminary.

In 1856, tragedy struck –– two of the Prentiss children died of illness.  Elizabeth was devastated as she tried to come to grips with her loss –– and also her sense of the unfairness that God would allow her children to die.  She and her husband talked about it at length, and his encouragement gave her some help –– but her grief was profound.  Then one day she felt inspired to write some verse inspired by something that her husband had said in a sermon:  "Love can keep the soul from going blind."  She thought that if love could do that, she needed more love.  And so she began to write.

She quickly dashed off three verses and part of a fourth verse, and then she stopped.  She didn't do anything with her poem at that time, perhaps feeling that the solace that she received from writing it was enough. But thirteen years later, she showed her poem to her husband, and he encouraged her to have it printed in leaflet form, which she did –– after completing the fourth verse.  Even then she distributed the leaflets only to a few of their friends.

BIBLE VERSE:  Philippians 1:9And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more.”

HYMN LYRICS:

More love to Thee, O Christ, more love to Thee!
Hear Thou the prayer I make on bended knee.
This is my earnest plea: More love, O Christ, to Thee;
More love to Thee, more love to Thee!

Once earthly joy I craved, sought peace and rest;
Now Thee alone I seek, give what is best.
This all my prayer shall be: More love, O Christ to Thee;
More love to Thee, more love to Thee!

Let sorrow do its work, come grief or pain;
Sweet are Thy messengers, sweet their refrain,
When they can sing with me: More love, O Christ, to Thee;
More love to Thee, more love to Thee!

Then shall my latest breath whisper Thy praise;
This be the parting cry my heart shall raise;
This still its prayer shall be: More love, O Christ to Thee;
More love to Thee, more love to Thee!

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