"LORD JESUS, THINK ON ME"
"According to Thy mercy remember Thou me…" (Ps. 25.7)
INTRO.: A hymn which asks the Lord in His mercy to remember us is "Lord Jesus, Think On Me" (#571 in Hymns for Worship Revised). The text was written by Synesius of Cyrene, who was born in Cyrene, North Africa, which is in modern day Libya, around A. D. 375. Cyrene was the seat of a Greek colony which became a flourishing center of wealth and learning and home to philosophers, poets, and artists. Its apex of glory was around 100 B. C. Synesius was descended from a wealthy and illustrious family which, according to the historian Edward Gibbons, could trace its descent back seventeen centuries to Spartan Kings. In his youth, he went to Alexandria and was educated under the celebrated woman Neo-Platonist, Hypatia. As an adult, he became wealthy and was known as a sportsman, a brilliant philosopher, a statesman, an eloquent orator, and a man of noble character.
Also, Synesius was a friend of Augustine of Hippo. When invasions by the Goths were threatening his country, he sought to persuade Emperor Arcadius about the imminent danger, but without success. After marrying a Christian in 403, he was converted to Christianity and a few years later was made bishop of Ptolemais by popular demand in 410. In spite of his dissent from some of the tenets of the church, his outstanding character alone made him acceptable. Around 410, Synesius published a series of ten hymns in which he set forth Christian doctrine. They show the evidences of Semitic influence on classic Greek poetry. "Lord Jesus, Think On Me" is the last of the ten. After having outlived his beloved wife and lost all his sons to a plague, he died around A. D. 430 in Ptolemais, although some authorities give the date as early as 414. The English translation was made by Allen William Chatfield (1808-1896).
Chatfield, an Anglican minister in England, first published five stanzas in his Songs and Hymns of the Earliest Greek Christian Poets. Four more stanzas were added shortly afterwards, and the nine stanzas appeared later that year in his Collected Psalms and Hymns. The song became well known as a result of being used in Hymns Ancient and Modern. Usually the words are set to a minor tune (Damon, Southwell, or Northern Tune) that first appeared in The Psalms of David in English Meter of 1579
published by William Damon (c. 1540-c. 1590). For those who do not care for lugubrious minor melodies, the hymn can be sung to any short meter tune. I prefer one (Dulce Domum) composed in 1876 by an Englishman who emigrated to Canada, Robert Steele Ambrose (1824-1908). It is used in Hymns for Worship Revised with "One Sweetly Solemn Thought" (#625).
Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the hymn is found in 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 Revised (not in the original edition). According to Albert Edward Bailey in The Gospel in Hymns, the song appeared among liturgical denominations in the 1938 Anglican Hymn Book of Canada, the 1940 Episcopal Hymnal of the United States, The 1918 United Lutheran Common Service Book, The 1937 Presbyterian Hymnal, the 1931 Anglican Songs of Praise of England, and the 1930 Hymnary of the United Church of Canada. It was probably introduced to evangelical denominations in the 1974 Hymns of the Living Church edited by Donald P. Hustad and published by Hope Publishing Company.
The song asks for various blessings from the remembrance of the Lord.
I. From stanza 1, we learn that we must seek forgiveness from the Lord
"Lord Jesus, think on me And purge away my sin;
From earth-born passions set me free And make me pure within."
A. The Christian who sins must confess his sin to find forgiveness from the Lord: 1 Jn. 1.9
B. Then, he must be set free from all earth-born passions by putting to death his members which are upon the earth: Col. 3.5
C. This is how the Lord will make him pure within: 1 Jn. 3.3
II. From stanza 2, we learn that we must turn to the Lord to find rest from care and woe
"Lord Jesus, think on me, With care and woe oppressed;
Let me Thy loving servant be And gain Thy promised rest."
A. As long as we live on this earth, we shall be oppressed by care and woe, but we can cast our cares upon the Lord: 1 Pet. 5.7
B. To do this, we must determine to be His loving servants: Rom. 6.22
C. When we come to Christ and take His yoke of service, He promises rest: Matt. 11.28-30
III. From stanza 3, we learn that we must find help from the Lord in the fight of faith
"Lord Jesus, think on me, Amid the battle’s strife;
In all my pain and misery Be Thou my health and life."
A. The battle’s strife involves wrestling with the hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places: Eph. 6.10-12
B. There will always be much pain, misery and hardship as we strive to be good soldiers of Christ: 2 Tim. 2.3
C. However, Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly: Jn. 10.10
IV. From stanza 4, we learn that we must go to the Lord for guidance to keep from straying
"Lord Jesus, think on me, Nor let me go astray;
Through darkness and perplexity Point Thou the heavenly way."
A. Because we are fallible, it is possible for us to go astray: 1 Cor. 10.12
B. However, through the darkness and perplexity of this life, God is able to keep those who obey His will from falling and present them faultless befoe Him: Jude vs. 24-25
C. Therefore, He always points us to the strait and narrow way that leads to heaven: Matt. 7.13-14
V. From stanza 5, we learn that that we must look to the Lord for strength against our enemies
"Lord Jesus, think on me, When flows the tempest high;
When on doth rush the enemy, O Savior, be Thou nigh."
A. The tempest flowing high represents the warfare that we must wage in Christ’s service: 1 Tim. 1.18
B. The enemy is the devil who goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour: 1 Pet. 5.8
C. However, if we draw near to God, He will draw near to us and help us resist the devil: Jas. 4.7-8
VI. From stanza 6, we learn that we must hold to Jesus in order to receive eternal joy
"Lord Jesus, think on me, That when the flood is past,
I may th’eternal brightness see And share Thy joy at last."
A. When the flood is past refers to the time when it is appointed to man to die: Heb. 9.27
B. God wants us to have eternal life, but this life is found only in His Son: 1 Jn. 5.11
C. Those who are faithful to the Son will enter into the joy of the Lord: Matt. 25.21
CONCL.: Usually, no more than six of the nine stanzas are usually found in hymnbooks today, but here is the concluding one (in early centuries it was common to end all hymns with a trinitarian doxology):
"Lord Jesus, think on me That I may sing above
To Father, Spirit, and to Thee The strains of praise and love."
It is generally thought that these were the work of a tired man who had run the entire gamut of life, tasted its power and its joys, its successes and its failures, and now looked forward to an uncertain future in which the whole fabric of his society was disintegrating. Yet he did so with faith in Christ and hope for the Lord’s blessings. It is amazing how these universal desires, although expressed 1,500 years ago, make this hymn relevant to every age. I, too, live in a wicked and untoward generation in which I need to ask, "Lord Jesus, Think On Me."