“I Know That My Redeemer Lives” (Medley)


"I know that my Redeemer liveth…" (Job 19.25)

     INTRO.: A hymn which emphasizes the fact that our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, arose from the dead and is now alive is "I Know That My Redeemer Lives." The text was written by Samuel Medley (1738-1799). Originally in nine stanzas and beginning, "I know that my Redeemer lives, What comfort this sweet passage gives," it was first published anonymously in the 1775 Psalms and Hymns, 21st Ed., begun by George Whitefield (1714-1770). Later, it was published with Medley’s name in a posthumous 1880 collection of his works entited Hymns: The Public Worship. Other hymns by Medley that have appeared in our books include "O Could I Speak the Matchless Worth" and "Awake, My Soul, In Joyful Lays." The tune (Luton or Comfort) used in most of our books was composed by George Burder, who was born on June 5, 1752, in London, England. Trained as an engraver, at the age of 24 he began following George Whitefield for awhile, preaching among the Calvinistic Methodists.

     Sometime after this, Burder became minister with a Congregational Church at Preston in Lancashire. The services were often interrupted because there was a theater in the same building. Once a Romeo, in full costume, burst in and demanded that the service stop. Later he moved to Coventry in Warwickshire, and founded the city’s first Sunday School in 1785. One of the first pupils was John Eagleton, who later became a preacher and church music composer. In 1784 Burder published a Collection of Hymns from Various Authors, Intended as a Supplement to Dr. Watts, and included some four of his own hymns. Living the last thirty years of his life in London, he labored as minister at Fetter Lane, helped to found the Religious Tract Society and the British and Foreign Bible Society, and served as secretary of the London Missionary Society.

     In addition, Burder edited the Evangelical Magazine for a time and published several books of sermons before his death at St. Pancreas at London on May 28, 1832. I have not been able to find any exact information on the tune, its date, or the origin of publication. One source gives the date as 1774, whereas others have 1780. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song appeared in the 1922 edition of the 1921 Great Songs of the Church (No. 1) and the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 both edited by E. L. Jorgenson. The text, with another tune (from Thomas Williams’s 1789 Psalmodia Evangelica usually associated with George Weissel’s "Lift Up Your Heads"), appeared in the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater, and today is found in the 1986 Great Songs Revised edited by Forrest M. McCann.

     The song expresses several benefits that we have today because Jesus Christ is alive.

I. Stanza 1 says that He lives to be our Head
"I know that my Redeemer lives! What comfort this sweet sentence gives.
He lives, He lives who once was dead; He lives, my everlasting Head."
(Great Songs Revised adopts a reading for the second line which first appeared in the 1849 Methodist Hymnal: "What joy the blest assurance gives.")
 A. Jesus lives because He rose from the grave: 2 Tim. 2.8
 B. He once was dead because He died for our sins: 1 Cor. 15.3
 C. But having been raised from the dead, He ascended to the right hand of God where He was given to be Head over all things to the church: Eph. 1.20-23

II. Stanza 2 says that He lives to plead for us
"He lives to bless me with His love; He lives to plead for me above.
He lives my hungry soul to feed; He lives to help in time of need."
 A. Because He ever lives, He pleads for us by making intercession: Heb. 7.25
 B. In addition to interceding for us, He also feeds our hungry souls as a shepherd feeds his flock: Isa. 40.11
 C. As a result of His interceding and feeding us, He is always there to help in time of need: Heb. 4.14-16

III. Stanza 3 says that He lives to be our Prophet, Priest, and King
"He lives, my kind, wise heavenly Friend; He lives and loves me to the end.
He lives, and while He lives I’ll sing; He lives, my Prophet, Priest, and King."
 A. He is our Prophet because God has spoken to us through Him: Acts 3.22-23, Heb. 1.1-2
 B. He is our High Priest after the order of Melchizedek: Heb. 3.1, 5.1-6
 C. He is our King because He sits on His throne in heaven to rule over God’s kingdom: Rev. 3.21

IV. Stanza 4 says that He lives prepare a mansion for us
"He lives, and grants me daily breath; He lives, and I shall conquer death.
He lives, my mansion to prepare; He lives to bring me safely there."
 A. Because Jesus arose and lives, we have the hope of conquering death when He comes again: 1 Cor. 15.20, 40-47
 B. Having arisen and ascended to the Father, He is preparing a mansion or dwelling place for us in heaven: Jn. 14.1-3
 C. His purpose is to bring us safely there as our forerunner who has already entered into the presence behind the veil: Heb. 6.19-20

V. Stanza 5 says that He lives the same forever
"He lives, all glory to His name! He lives, my Jesus, still the same.
O the rich joy this sentence gives: I know that my Redeemer lives."
 A. Because Jesus lives, we should give all glory to His name: Rev. 5.12
 B. As the eternal Son of God, He is the same yesterday, today, and forever: Heb. 13.8
 C. Therefore, the knowledge that He lives should fill our hearts with joy: Phil. 4.4

     CONCL.: Three other stanzas of the song that are not in common use are:
3. "He lives, triumphant from the grave; He lives eternally to save.
He lives all glorious in the sky; He lives exalted there on high."
4. "He lives to grant me rich supply; He lives to guide me with His eye.
He lives to comfort me when faint; He lives to hear my soul’s complaint."
5. "He lives to silence all my fears; He lives to wipe away my tears.
He lives to calm my troubled heart; He lives all blessings to impart."
I know, based upon natural observation, that unless the Lord comes first, someday I shall die. No one living today has any first hand knowledge of what lies after death. However, I can be filled with great assurance that God has something wonderful planned for His people beyond the grave because "I Know That My Redeemer Lives."

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