“And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only” (Matt. 17:8)
INTRO.: A song which encourages us to look to no man save Jesus only is “Only Thee.” The text was written and the tune was composed both by Lelia (sometimes spelled Leila) Naylor (Mrs. Charles H.) Morris (1862-1929). The song was listed as “Copyright 1935 renewal, Gospel Advocate owner.” This would make the original copyright date as 1907. Mrs. Naylor, a native and life-long resident of Ohio, produced such other well known songs as “I Know God’s Promise Is True,” “Let Jesus Come into Your Heart,” “Sweet Will of God,” “Nearer, Still Nearer,” and “Sweeter as the Years Go By.” Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, “Only Thee” appeared in the 1935 Christian Hymns (No. 1) edited by L. O. Sanderson. According to Hymnary.org, the song also was included in a couple of other 1935 books, Standardbearer Hymns edited by I. G. Martin for the Nazarene Publishing House of Kansas City, MO, and Songs We Love edited by Sanderson for Interstate Press of Nashville, TN.
The song seeks to focus our attention on Jesus Christ as the only one who can save and guide.
I. Stanza 1 says that Christ is the chief among ten-thousand
“Whom have I on earth beside Thee?
None with my Lord can compare;
Chiefest one among ten-thousand,
Fairest one of the fair.”
A. There is a sense in which there is none on earth that we can trust besides the Lord: Ps. 73:25
B. Because of who and what He is, none can compare with Him: Ps. 89:6
C. Therefore, as the Shulamite’s beloved was to her, Christ should be the chief among ten-thousand to us: S. S. 5:10
II. Stanza 2 says that Christ is the worthy of our hearts’ sincere affection
“I have made my choice forever;
Only Christ will I adore,
And my heart’s sincere affections
At Thy feet I humbly pour.”
A. The Lord challenges us to look at the choices and choose to serve Him: Josh. 24:15
B. The reason that we should choose Him is that as our Redeemer He alone is worthy to be adored or worshipped: Rev. 5:9-12
C. One way in which we do this is by pouring at His feet our hearts’ sincerest affections as we set them on things above rather than things of earth: Col. 3:1-2
III. Stanza 3 says that Christ is the one whom we desire to see in heaven
“Whom have I on earth beside Thee?
Whom in glory-land but Thee?
Heaven without Thy gracious presence
Never could be heaven to me.”
A. We look forward to seeing Christ in the glory-land: 1 Jn. 3:1-3
B. This glory-land is identified as being in heaven: 1 Pet. 1:3-5
C. It is the presence of Christ Himself that will make heaven the glorious place that it will be to the righteous: Rev. 22:22-23
CONCL.: The chorus reminds us that Jesus is the only one whom we can trust to be our Savior.
“Only Thee, only Thee,
Blessed Savior, only Thee;
Thou my everlasting portion,
Blessed Savior, only Thee.”
It would appear that Mrs. Morris may have been influenced in writing this hymn by a couple of Fanny Crosby’s hymns because she includes direct quotations from two of them: “Pass Me Not” (“Whom have I on earth beside Thee?”) and “Close to Thee” (“Thou my everlasting portion”). Even if this were a conscious intention, other hymn writers have occasionally done the same kind of thing as a means of showing their respect for someone else. In any event, as I live this life in the hope of heaven my desire should be to say to Christ that I will serve “Only Thee.”