"SAVIOR, MORE THAN LIFE TO ME"
"…The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin" (1 Jn. 1.7)
INTRO.: A song which talks about the love and care that God has had in wanting us to draw near to Christ so that His blood can cleanse us from all sin is "Savior, More Than Life To Me" (#29 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by Mrs. Frances Jane Crosby VanAlstyne, better known by her maiden name, Fanny J. Crosby (1820-1915). The tune (Every Day and Hour) was composed by William Howard Doane (1832-1915). In 1875 Doane sent the melody to Miss Crosby and requested that she provide some words on the theme "Every day and hour." The song first appeared later that year in Brightest and Best compiled by Doane and Robert Lowry.
Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ during the twentieth century, the song appeared in the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 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; and the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch. 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; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; in addition to Sacred Selections and the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat.
The song tells us what Jesus should mean to us.
I. Stanza 1 refers to Christ as more than life
"Savior, more than life to me, I am clinging, clinging close to Thee;
Let Thy precious blood applied Keep me ever, ever near Thy side."
A. Because Jesus is more than life to the Christian, we should "cleave" (KJV) to the Lord: Acts 11.23
B. When we do that, we have access to His precious blood, because it is in Christ that we have redemption through His blood: Eph. 1.7
C. The application of that blood will help keep us near His side: Jas. 4.8
II. Stanza 2 refers to Christ as the object of our trust
"Through this changing world below, Lead me gently, gently as I go;
Trusting Thee, I cannot stray, I can never, never lose my way."
A. This world below is a place that is always changing: Heb. 1.10-12
B. Therefore, we must trust in Jesus to lead us as we go: Ps. 23.1-2
C. Trusting Him, we cannot stray and we can never lose our way: 2 Pet. 1.10-11
III. Stanza 3 refers to Jesus as the one who takes us home
"Let me love Thee more and more, Till this fleeting, fleeting life is o’er;
Till my soul is lost in love, In a brighter, brighter world above."
A. As long as this life lasts, we should love our Lord more and more with all our heart, soul, and mind: Matt. 22.37
B. However, we must remember that someday this fleeing life will be ended in death: Heb. 9.27
C. Then, if we have followed Jesus, our souls will be in a brighter world above: Jn. 14.1-3
IV. Stanza 4 as the one who led us in life
"Then I’ll see what Thou hast wrought; Then I’ll love Thee, love Thee as I ought.
Looking back, I’ll praise the way Thou hast led me, led me day by day."
A. When we are dwelling in that brighter world above, we shall be able to see that God has worked out all things together for our good: Rom. 8.28
B. Then, we shall also love Him as we ought because we shall see Him as He is: 1 Jn. 3.1-2
C. Also, we can join with the heavenly hosts in praising Him for what He has done for us: Rev. 5.8-12
CONCL.: The chorus continues to emphasize the need to strive for closeness to the Lord:
"Every day, every hour, Let me feel Thy cleansing power;
May Thy tender love to me Bind me closer, closer, Lord, to Thee."
One book in my collection that has this hymn was published by a religious group that is notorious for changing hymns to fit their peculiar doctrines, including a belief that the righteous shall not go to heaven but shall live forever upon a renewed earth. Stanza 3 was thus altered to read,
"Till my soul has gained the bliss Of a higher, higher state than this."
All other sources that I checked had but three stanzas. Only this book had four, so I do not know if it was a stanza from Miss Crosby that has been universally omitted in most books or if it is a stanza added by the editors of the book, but it is not in the combined Gospel Hymns Nos. 1-6 Complete edited by Ira D.Sankey, who was President of Biglow and Main which published most of Fanny’s hymns, so it is likely that the stanza was added later. In any event, as I consider the love and care that God has demonstrated to me by the spiritual blessings available in Christ, I should be able to look upon Jesus as a "Savior, More Than Life To Me."