lyrics for living 7 (ever, only, all)

This hymn nourished me as a child. It still challenges me as an adult.

The first two lines go like this:
Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.

Then the lyrics go on a tour, covering my moments/days, my hands, feet, voice, lips, silver/gold, intellect, will, heart and love. Each time crafting words which voice a desire for these specific areas to be consecrated to Christ. I've never been too good at giving appeals after sermons, but on one occasion I asked the congregation to remain seated while we sang this hymn - and then to stand when the lyrics arrived that captured the area of their lives which they needed to consecrate again to Christ. It was a moving sight.

The last two lines return to a similar idea as the opening line (using self instead of life), but now with every area consecrated and under His control, the singer is able to affirm 'I will be' in offering this stunning climax:
Take my self and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.

These little words capture me. Small words with big implications. It reminds me of how one scholar described the parable: 'what they say is minimal; what they intend is maximal'.

Ever        there is no time in my life when he is not Lord. It is lifelong.
Only        there are no other lords in my life competing with him. It is exclusive.
All           there is no space in my life where he is not Lord. It is total.

What a challenge. Tie these little words to that big word - consecration - and we've found the life worth living in response to God's gracious initiative in our lives through Christ. And what I love about 'consecration' is that it pushes to the sidelines things like skill and talent and charisma and appearance and education and any of the other things that society rates as critical for success.

Nah! With 'ever-only-all' in place, the highly unspectacular person can be so beautifully used by Christ, if they are consecrated. That is one of the things I love about grace and abut the Spirit.

Sometimes I think about adding another a verse to this hymn. Is there something missing? When Frances Havergal takes us on this tour with these lyrics should she have lingered anywhere else? What do you think? Would you have remained seated at the end of the appeal because the lyrics do not go where they need to go with you? I wonder.

Sadly, the youtube clips which stick to an 'ever-only-all' climax tend to be the rather old, fuddy-duddy versions. But then the two I like most play around with the lyrics a bit much. Chris Tomlin has a beautiful updated version, but 'ever-only-all' gets lost a bit in words which he chooses to add - and repeat ... a lot! Then there is this powerful version by Kari Jobe. WOW. Just listen to the passion in her voice. Love it, except she deleted 'ever-only-all' completely and decided not to bother with some of the verses. What?! I can barely bring myself to embed it after this most grievous error! But listen to her sing ... and almost all can be forgiven :).

For a little history of the hymn, here are Havergal's own words:

Perhaps you will be interested to know the origin of the consecration hymn 'Take my life.' I went for a little visit of five days [to Areley House, Worcester, in 1874]. 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!'"

nice chatting


Here are the links to previous Lyrics for Living posts:
#1 (touched by a loving hand)
#2 (a thrill of hope)
#3 (dews of quietness)
#4 (trace the rainbow)
#5 (wing my words)
#6 (but this I know)


Ben Carswell said…
I love this hymn - appreciate your analysis of it which enriches it even more. We need more hymns/songs like this - something has been lost in modern song-writing in terms of consecration. I grew up (mainly) with a different tune, Nottingham...of which the Youtube options are even worse. Keep these old crackers coming - the church today needs them.
Yes, Trent Bridge was the tune on which I was raised as well.
It had a broad appeal with a nice pace and swing to it.

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