“Savior, Teach Me”

"We love Him, because He first loved us" (1 Jn. 4:19)

     INTRO.: A hymn which talks about how we can be more consecrated by loving Him who first loved us is "Savior, Teach Me (#694 in Hymns for Worship Revised, and #270 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by Jane Eliza Leeson, who was born at Wilford in Nottinghamshire, England, around Dec. 18, 1808 (some sources say 1807 and others 1809). Living most of her life in London, England, for many years she was active in a strange sect known as the Holy Catholic Apostolic Church. This group was organized in 1832 for people who felt unwelcome in other religious or-ganizations. For its hymnal Jane contributed nine hymns and translations. During her life she also published four collections of her own religious poetry. This hymn first appeared in her Hymns and Scenes of Childhood, or A Sponsor’s Gift, a collection of children’s poems published at London in 1842. It originally consisted of four eight-line stanzas, which have been broken up and arranged to form the four-line stanzas of the modern hymn.

     Not finding permanent satisfaction in her early communion, Miss Leeson, who produced some nine other volumes of writings during her lifetime, including some fourteen hymns and a few translations, ultimately joined the Roman Catholic Church later in life. She died at Leamington, in Warwickshire, England, near London on Nov. 18, 1881 (some sources say 1882). Most of our books use a tune (Seymour or Weber) that was composed by Carl Maria von Weber (1786-1826). It is taken from the theme of the opening chorus to his last opera, Oberon, which he started in 1825 and was first performed in 1826. The arrangment as a hymn tune was made by Henry Wellington Greatorex (1813-1858). It first appeared with another text in his 1851 Collection of Psalm and Hymn Tunes.  However, this tune is also often commonly used with George Washington Doane’s hymn "Softly Now the Light of Day."

     Other tunes have been used for Leeson’s hymn, and one (Love’s Sweet Lesson) found in some older books was composed by Charles Crozat Converse (1832-1918). I have found no date or source of publication for it. The arrangement was made by James Henry Fillmore (1849-1936). I have no information regarding the date or source of its first publication either, except that it is found in The Cross and Resurrection in Song (Revised and Enlarged) of 1927 edited by Samuel H. and Flavil Hall, well known hymnbook editors among churches of Christ in the early part of the twentieth century.  I have also seen the Crozat tune used with Leeson’s hymn in the 1987 Zion’s Praises edited by Aaron Z. Weaver and published by Weaver Music Company of Pittsgrove, NJ, a Mennonite publishing company. Converse is best remembered as the composer of the melody used with "What a Friend We Have in Jesus."

     Among other hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, Leeson’s text with the Weber tune 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 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2 and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 both edited by L. O. Sanderson; the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater; and the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch.  Today it may be found in the 1971 Songs of the Church 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. Many of these books also use the same tune with Doane’s "Softly Now the Light of Day."

     The song reminds us that our love is to be based on the love that Christ has had for us.

I. From stanza 1 we see the importance of making known our love to Christ in obedience
"Savior, teach me, day by day, Love’s sweet lesson to obey;
Sweeter lesson cannot be–Loving Him who first loved me."
 A. The grace of God, manifested in Jesus Christ, not only brings salvation, but it also teaches us: Tit. 2:10-11
 B. One lesson that it teaches us is that if we love Christ, we will keep His word: Jn. 14:23-24
 C. Such a lesson, like all of God’s word, is designed to be sweeter than the honeycomb: Ps. 19:10

II. From stanza 2 we learn the need to demonstrate our love by serving Christ
"With a child-like heart of love, At Thy bidding may I move,
Prompt to serve and follow Thee–Loving Him who first loved me."
 A. Our love for Christ should be child-like, since we must become as little children to enter His kingdom: Matt. 18:3-4
 B. To move at Jesus’s bidding, we must hear Him: Matt. 17:5
 C. And whatever else we do in life, we must remember that we serve the Lord Christ: Col. 3:23-24

III. From stanza 3 we find the necessity of evidencing our love for Christ by following Him
"Teach me all Thy steps to trace, Strong to follow in Thy grace,
Learning how to love from Thee–Loving HIm who first loved me."
 A. Jesus, who loved us, left us an example that we should follow in His steps: 1 Pet. 2:21-23
 B. In order to trace His steps, we need to be strong in the power of His might: Eph. 6:10
 C. This includes learning how to love from Him who loved us and gave Himself for us: Eph. 5:2

IV. From stanza 4 we recognize that we must manifest our love in joyful living
"Love in loving finds employ, In obedience all her joy;
Ever new that joy will be–Loving Him who first loved me."
 A. Loving the Lord is not idle but finds employ by abounding in the work of the Lord: 1 Cor. 15:58
 B. Of course, whatever work we do must be in obedience to Christ: Heb. 5:8-9
 C. But as we work in obedience to Christ, we can rejoice in the Lord always: Phil. 4:1-4

V. From stanza 5 we realize the essentiality of showing love by singing
"Thus may I rejoice to show That I feel the love I owe;
Singing, till Thy face I see, Of His love who first loved me."
 A. It is not enough just to "have love"–we need to show it: 1 Jn. 3:18
 B. While Christianity is not based simply on feelings, we must surely "feel" it if we do love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength: Mk. 12:30
 C. And singing praises to Him who first loved us is one way of expressing our love for Him: Eph. 5:19

     CONCL.: There are numerous laws on earth which attempt to teach us to be better people, but the Christian will always be motivated not just by law but by Christ’s love for him. And while we have experienced Christ’s love in the past, not only in the physical realm but especially in His death on the cross for our sins and the salvation that we received from Him, we must reflect anew each day on what it means to love Him.  Only as my love leads to action can I be truly consecrated to Jesus, and so I make my plea to Him, "Savior, Teach Me."


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