“I Do Believe”

"I DO BELIEVE"
"There shall be a fountain opened…for sin and for uncleanness" (Zech. 13:1)

     INTRO.: A hymn which reminds us of what Jesus did in order for a fountain to be opened for sin and uncleanness is "I Do Believe." It appears in many of our books as a single stanza attributed to Charles Wesley (1707-1788). The tune (Campmeeting) is from an unknown source. Some books list it as an early English melody, while others identify it as a traditional American melody (and both could be true, since many early American melodies had English roots). It was especially popular in the nineteenth-century campmeetings of Methodists, where it was often sung with texts by Wesley, such as "Forever here my rest shall be" (used here), "Father, I stretch my hand to Thee," and "Come, let us who in Christ believe." Other books have used it with John Fawcett’s "How precious is the book divine," Bernard Barton’s "Walk in the light, so thou shalt know," Richard Burnham’s "Jesus, Thou art the sinner’s Friend," and most recently James Montgomery’s "Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire." It almost always included the chorus, "I do believe, I now believe, That Jesus died for me, And through His blood, His precious blood, I can from sin be free."

     This chorus has traditionally been attached to Wesley’s hymn "Forever here my rest shall be," which I have chosen to use here, and it is generally believed that Wesley may have penned it, but the attachment may also be simply due to the custom of its use with other hymns by him. In Hymns and History, Forrest M. McCann wrote, "I have been unable to find full original poem." The modern arrangement of the music was made by Robert Guy McCutchan, who was born at Mt. Ayr, IA, on Sept. 13, 1877, the son of Erastus Gilmore and Margaret Edie McCutchan. Educated at Park College in Parkville, MO, and Simpson College in Indianola, IA, he later studied in Berlin, Germany, and Paris, France. In 1904 he married Carrie Burns Sharp and became a teacher at Baker University in Baldwin, KS. Two years later he was appointed head of the newly established music department there. Then in 1911, he was named dean of the school of music at DePauw University in Greencastle, IN. From 1924 to 1928 he was a member of the Commission on Church Music in the Methodist Episcopal Church.

     Already the author of Better Music in Our Churches in 1925 and Music in Worship in 1927, McCutchan edited the American Junior Church and Church School Hymnal in 1928, and Standard Hymns and Gospel Songs in 1929. From 1928 to 1935, he was a member of the Joint Commission for the Revision of the Methodist Hymnal, and in 1935 was editor of the Methodist Hymnal, from which his harmonization of this tune is taken. Also he wrote Our Hymnody, the handbook to the Methodist Hymnal, in 1937, the year of his retirement. After that, he moved to Claremont, CA, remaining active as a lecturer on hymnology and conducting church music conferences. For a number of years he served on the General Conference Committee on Music of the Methodist Church. His wife died in 1941, and in 1944 he married Helen Laura Cowles. Another book of his, Hymns in the Lives of Men, was published in 1945. In 1954 and 1955 he was visiting professor at the Perkins School of Theology with the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX, for eighteen months. His final work, Hymn Tune Names, was produced in 1957, and he died at Claremont, CA, on May 15, 1958.

     Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the chorus "I Do Believe" appeared in the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 edited by E. L. Jorgenson; and the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch.  The tune was used with Montgomery’s "Prayer Is the Soul’s Sincere Desire" in the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater, and today this is found in Hymns for Worship Revised (not in the original edition).  Because "I Do Believe" and "Forever here my rest shall be" both do refer to the death of Christ and the blessings that we can have through His bleeding side, the hymn as given here might be thought of as an appropriate one to use before the Lord’s supper.

     The song emphasizes the benefits that come to us through the sacrifice of Christ for us.

I. Stanza 1 mentions hope
"Forever here my rest shall be Close to Thy bleeding side;
This all my hope, and all my plea, For me the Savior died."
 A. The scriptures teach that when Jesus hung on the cross, blood and water poured forth from His side when the soldier pierced Him with the spear: Jn. 19:34
 B. As a result of what Jesus did for us, we can have hope: Col. 1:27
 C. This hope is based squarely on the fact that He died for our sins according to the scriptures: 1 Cor. 15:1-3

II. Stanza 2 mentions cleansing
"My dying Savior, and my God, Fountain for guilt and sin,
Sprinkle me ever in Thy blood, And cleanse, and keep me clean."
 A. To open the fountain for guilt and sin, Jesus tasted death for everyone: Heb. 2:9
 B. Therefore, he has made it possible for us to be sprinkled with His blood: Heb. 10:22, 12:24
 C. In this way, we can have cleansing from our sins: 1 Jn. 1:7-9

III. Stanza 3 mentions washing
"Wash me, and make me thus Thine own, Wash me, and mine Thou art;
Wash me, but not my feet alone, My hands, my head, my heart."
 A. Jesus has made possible the washing of water by the word for our regeneration: Eph. 5:26, Tit. 3:5
 B. He washes away our sins when we arise and are baptized: Acts 22:16
 C. Thus, He washes not our feet alone, but our hands, heads, and hearts figuratively just as Peter requested when Jesus washed the disciples’ feet: Jn. 13:1-9

IV. Stanza 4 mentions atonement
"Th’atonement of Thy blood apply, Till faith to sight improve,
Till hope shall in fruition die, And all my soul be love."
 A. Jesus came to make atonement or reconciliation for our sins: Rom. 5:11
 B. This He did by His blood: Matt. 26:28
 C. We have need of this and should remember what it took until faith improves to sight, hope dies in its fruition, and all our souls are but love, which refers to when the Lord comes again: 1 Cor. 11:26

V. Stanza 5 mentions peace
"Jesus, Thou art my Righteousness, For all my sins were Thine;
Thy death hath bought of God my peace, Thy life hath made Him mine."
 A. Jesus is our Righteousness: 1 Cor. 1:30
 B. The reason is that He took our sins upon Himself: 1 Pet. 2:24
 C. Because of this, He has made it possible for us to be at peace with God: Eph. 2:16-18

VI. Stanza 6 mentions salvation
"Spotless and just in Thee I am; I feel my sins forgiven.
I taste salvation in Thy name, And antedate my heaven."
 A. As a result of what Jesus has done for us, we can be spotless: 2 Pet. 3:14
 B. This is because He has made it possible for us to have our sins forgiven: Eph. 1:7
 C. Therefore, we can taste salvation here and have a foretaste of what awaits us in heaven: 1 Pet. 1:5-9

     CONCL.: The final two stanzas here were the original first two stanzas in Wesley’s poem, but a lot of books, if they use them at all, put them at the end and make the stanza beginning "Forever here my rest shall be" as the first.
The second most often used Wesley hymn with this tune and chorus is as follows:
1. "Father, I stretch my hands to Thee, No other help I know;
If Thou withdraw Thyself from me, Ah! whither shall I go?"
2. "What did Thine only Son endure, Before I drew my breath!
What pain, what labor, to secure My soul from endless death!"
3. "O Jesus, could I this believe, I now should feel Thy power;
Now my poor soul Thou wouldst retrieve, Nor let me wait one hour."
4. "Surely Thou canst not let me die; O speak, and I shall live;
And here I will unwearied lie, Till Thou Thy Spirit give."
5. "Author of faith! to Thee I lift My weary, longing eyes:
O let me now receive that gift!  My soul without it dies."
6. "The worst of sinners would rejoice, Could they but see Thy face:
O, let me hear Thy quickening voice, And taste Thy pardoning grace."
The chorus emphasizes the fact that we must believe that Jesus died for us to be made free from sin.
"I do believe, I now believe, That Jesus died for me;
And through His blood, His precious blood, I shall from sin be free."
Of course, I must confess my faith in the death of Christ at all times, but especially when I partake of the Lord’s supper, I am saying with reference to His sacrifice for my sins that "I Do Believe."

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One thought on ““I Do Believe”

  1. In the 1921 Nazarene Publishing House Hymnal entitled “Waves Of Glory No. 2”, Hymn Number 200 is entitled “I Do Believe” and has the words you present above after this sentence: “The second most often used Wesley hymn with this tune and chorus is as follows:”

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