LORD, THOU LOVEST THE CHEERFUL GIVER
…For God loveth a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7)
INTRO.: A hymn which emphasizes the fact that God loves a cheerful giver is Lord, Thou Lovest the Cheerful Giver. The text was written by Robert Murray, who was born on Dec. 25, 1832, at Earltown, near Truro in Cornwall, England. After his family emigrated to Canada, he attended the Free College in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and became a Presbyterian minister. Serving as editor of the Presbyterian Witness for over 50 years, he produced a number of hymns, some of which appeared anonymously in that periodical. This one dates to 1898. A couple of other hymns by Murray, who died on Dec. 10, 1910, at Halifax, in Nova Scotia, Canada, are From Ocean unto Ocean and Sow the Seed Beside All Waters.
Most books which have Lord, Thou Lovest the Cheerful Giver use a tune (Beecher or Zundel) composed in 1870 by John Zundel and published in his Christian Heart Songs with Charles Wesleys Love Divine. It may be that Murray penned his hymn to fit this tune. Some books suggest as an alternate a tune (Blaenwern) composed in 1905 by William P. Rowlands which many books use with the 1912 arrangement of Psalm 92 that begins, It Is Good to Sing Thy Praises. Another tune (Beach Spring) that can be used with Lord, Thou Lovest the Cheerful Giver is a melody which is usually attributed to Benjamin Franklin White, who was born on Sept. 20, 1800, near Spartanburg, S, and began his musical career early in life by playing the fife in the War of 1812.
Later, White collaborated with his wifes brother-in-law, William Walker, in collecting folk tunes and camp meeting melodies. However, when Walker published The Southern Harmony in 1835, he gave no credit to White, creating a lifelong rift between the two. Thus, in 1844, White published his own book, The Sacred Harp, which included this tune, although I do not know to which hymn it was set. Like Walkers volume, The Sacred Harp used the shaped note music notation system. Through the years, White worked as a newspaper editor in Harris County, GA, in the 1840s, and taught music at the Hamilton Female Institute there. In 1865, he was elected mayor of Hamilton, GA, and on Dec. 5, 1879, died at Atlanta, Georgia, of injuries received in a fall.
I am not aware of any hymnbooks published by members of the Lords church during the twentieth century or currently which contain Lord, Thou Lovest a Cheerful Giver. The Beach Spring tune by White has been used with many other hymns, including Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy written in 1759 by Joseph Hart; Come, All Christians, Be Committed written in 1963 by Eva B. Lloyd, which has appeared in a few of our newer books; Prayer for Creation written in 2000 by Cathy Yost; God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger written in 2003 by Carolyn W. Gillette; and Listen, Sisters! Listen, Brothers! written in 2008 also by Carolyn W. Gillette.
Lord, Thou Lovest the Cheerful Giver reminds us of the importance of giving to the Lord.
I. Stanza 1 explains that we should give openly and freely
Lord, Thou lovest the cheerful giver,
Who with open heart and hand
Blesses freely, as a river
That refreshes all the land.
Grant us then the grace of giving
With a spirit large and free,
That our life and all our living
We may consecrate to Thee.
A. There are many ways to give, but one way that the Lord specifies for Christians to give is laying by in store on the first day of the week: 1 Cor. 16:2
B. Christians should give with open heart and hand or freely as did the Israelites in building the tabernacle: Exo. 35:4-7
C. Giving is a grace because it is better to give than to receive: Acts 20:35
II. Stanza 1 explains that we should give because God has saved us
We are Thine, Thy mercy sought us,
Found us in deaths dreadful way,
To the fold in safety brought us,
Nevermore from Thee to stray.
Thine own life Thou freely gavest
As an offering on the cross
For each sinner whom Thou savest
From eternal shame and loss.
A. Christians belong to the Lord because He bought them with a price: 1 Cor. 6:20
B. The price was the giving of His own life as an offering on the cross: Tit. 2:14
C. The result is that though we are sinners, we can be saved from eternal loss: Rom. 5:9
III. Stanza 3 explains that we should give in order to further the work of the church
Blest by Thee with gifts and graces,
May we heed Thy churchs call:
Gladly in all times and places
Give to Thee Who givest all.
Thou hast bought us, and no longer
Can we claim to be our own;
Ever free and ever stronger,
We shall serve Thee, Lord, alone.
A. The churchs call is to preach the gospel to the whole world: Mk. 16:15
B. God has given gifts to the church to enable it to accomplish this purpose: Eph. 4:7-12
C. Thus, when we use these gifts as God intended, we are serving Him and Him alone: Heb. 12:28
IV. Stanza 4 explains that we should give as citizens of Gods kingdom
Savior, Thou hast freely given
All the blessings we enjoy.
Earthly store and bread of heaven,
Love and peace without alloy;
Humbly now we bow before Thee,
And our all to Thee resign;
For the kingdom, power and glory,
Are, O Lord, forever Thine.
A. God has blessed mankind with earthly store of rain and fruitful seasons: Acts 14:17
B. But in Christ he has provided the bread of heaven for the citizens of His kingdom: Jn. 6:35
C. Therefore, as His people, we should realize that to Him belong the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever: Matt. 6:13
CONCL.: We dont have many hymns related specifically to the subject of giving (We Give Thee but Thine Own by William W. How is one), perhaps because it is such a touchy topic with a lot of churchgoers. However, in years gone by, it was a custom in many churches to sing a hymn about giving just before the offering during a worship service even as it has been a custom to sing a hymn about the death of Christ before the Lords supper. It is good to remember why it is important for us to give as we say to God, Lord, Thou Lovest a Cheerful Giver.