“I Love to Tell the Story”

"And they sang a new song, saying, Thou art worthy…for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us…" (Rev. 5.9).

     INTRO.: A hymn which mentions the "new song" of Christ’s redemption which we are to share with others because of our love for them is "I Love To Tell The Story" (#516 in Hymns for Worship Revised and #277 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by Arabella Catherine (Kate) Hankey (1834-1911). A writer, she composed a long poem on the life of Christ entitled "The Old, Old Story," from 1864 to 1866 while recovering from a serious illness that struck her at the age of thirty.  It was written in three headings, and the second was "The Story Told," dated Nov. 18, 1866, from which this hymn comes. Miss Hankey originally composed her own tune, and the song was published in Heart to Heart in 1870. 

     A newer tune (Hankey) was composed and the chorus added by William Gustavus Fischer, who was born in Baltimore, MD, on Oct. 14, 1835.  Learning to read music in a church singing school, he later studied music further at night while learning the bookbinding trade at J. B. Lippincott’s in Philadelphia, PA. Soon he became widely known as a music teacher and choral conductor. At the bicentennial of the landing of William Penn, he directed the chorus of the combined Welsh Societies.  After ten years as professor of music at Girard College, from 1858 to 1868, he resigned to enter the music business with J. E. Gould. Fischer produced a number of gospel songs, but he did not publish any hymnbooks.

    However, under the firm name of Fischer and Gould, Fischer did edit several booklets of Sunday school songs. This familiar version of Hankey’s hymn first appeared in a booklet of Sunday school songs, Joyful Songs, Nos. 1 to 3, which Fischer compiled and his firm published for the Methodist Episcopal Book Room of Philadelphia, PA, in 1869. Five years later, the song appeared in the 1874 Gospel Songs edited by Philip Paul Bliss. In 1875 it was included in the Gospel Hymns and Sacred Songs edited by Ira David Sankey and Bliss. These two collections made the hymn extremely popular. Fischer died at Philadelphia on Aug. 12, 1912.  Another section of Hankey’s poem has been made into a hymn entitled "Tell Me the Old, Old Story" with tune by William Howard Doane.

     Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, "I Love to Tell the Story" appeared in 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 1935 Christian Hymns (No. 1), the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2, and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 all edited by L. O. Sanderson; the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch; and the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater.  Today it may be found in the 1971 Songs of the Church, the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed., and the 1994 Songs of Faith and Praise all edited by Alton H. Howard; the 1978/1983 Church Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; the 1986 Great Songs Revised edited by Forrest M. McCann; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; in addition to Hymns for Worship, Sacred Selections, and the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat.

     The song stresses the need to show our love for others by sharing the gospel with them.

I. Stanza 1 says that we should tell the story of Jesus and His love
"I love to tell the story Of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory, Of Jesus and His love;
I love to tell the story Because I know ’tis true;
It satisfies my longing As nothing else can do."
 A. The story reminds us that there are unseen things which are above: 2 Cor. 4.16-18, Col. 3.1-2
 B. And these unseen things above are available to us because of Jesus and His love: Jn. 3.16, Rom. 5.8
 C. This story satisfies our longings as nothing else can do because it brings salvation to us: Acts 4.12

II. Stanza 2 says that we should tell the story to everyone
"I love to tell the story: More wonderful it seems
Than all the golden fancies Of all our golden dreams;
I love to tell the story: It did so much for me;
And that is just the reason I tell it now to thee."
 A. The gospel is more wonderful than all our golden fancies and dreams because it is the message of salvation: Mk. 16.15-16
 B. Like the demoniac who was healed by the power of Jesus, each Christian can say that the gospel story has done so much for him or her: Mk. 5.19
 C. Therefore, we should want to speak of it to anyone and everyone we can: Acts 4.20

III. Stanza 3 says that we should tell the story over and over again
"I love to tell the story: ‘Tis pleasant to repeat
What seems, each time I tell it, More wonderfully sweet;
I love to tell the story, For some have never heard
The message of salvation from God’s own holy word."
 A. The gospel story by which we have been converted becomes more wonderfully sweet to us: Psa. 19:7-11
 B. Furthermore, as long as the earth remains, there will always be those who need to hear the message of salvation: Acts 18.9-10
 C. Thus, we must continually be teaching God’s will so that people can receive it as it is in truth the word of God: 1 Thess. 2.13

IV. Stanza 4 says that we should tell the story because it will be the new song of eternity
"I love to tell the story, For those who know it best
Seem hungering and thirsting To hear it like the rest;
And when in scenes of glory I sing the new, new song,
‘Twill be the old, old story That I have loved so long."
 A. Certainly, we need to be hungering and thirsting to hear this story as long as we live on this earth: Matt. 5.6
 B. Someday, if we remain faithful to Christ, we shall experience those scenes of glory that God has reserved for His people in heaven: 1 Pet. 5.1, 10
 C. If we tell the old, old story here, then we will be able to sing the new, new song with the redeemed of all ages in heaven: Rev. 14.1-3.

     CONCL.: Fischer’s chorus, based on Hankey’s thoughts, re-emphasizes the main theme of the song:
"I love to tell the story! ‘Twill be my theme in glory
To tell the old, old story Of Jesus and His love."
Certainly I need to be thankful that Jesus loved me enough to die for me and make it possible for me to be saved from my sins. Yet, He died for everyone else too. Thus, in turn, may my love for my lost fellowman be such that I can truly say, "I Love To Tell The Story."


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s