Let Him Have His Way with Thee

(picture of Cyrus S. Nusbaum)


“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you…” (1 Pet. 5:6)

INTRO.: A song which encourages us to humble ourselves before God in submission to His will is “Let Him Have His Way With Thee” (#343 in Hymns for Worship Revised, #199 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written and the tune (His Way With Thee, Consecration, or Nusbaum) was composed both by Cyrus Sylvester Nusbaum, who was born in the vicinity of Elkhart and Middlebury, IN, on July 27, 1861, to Jakob Nusbaum (1831-1900) and Caroline Hoover Nusbaum (1834-1918). After completing high school in Middlebury, he began teaching school in Marion County, KS, in 1885. The next year, he was married to Harriet E. Erwin and became a minister in the Methodist Church. For nine years, he served churches in Douglas, Goddard, Wichita, and Kingman, KS, during which time he and his wife had two children, Bertha and Mark. After also working as educational secretary of Southwestern College in Winfield, KS, from 1895 to 1897, he was minister at Ottawa, KS, from 1897 to 1903.

This hymn was produced in 1898 and was based on experiences in his first year as minister. Nusbaum had been serving in one of the poorest circuits in the district. At the end of the year, he and his wife attended the conference where he hoped to be appointed to a better charge. However, he was named to the same “hard-scrabble” circuit. After returning to their lodging, he was at first unhappy and even felt rebellious, but about midnight he knelt in prayer and told the Lord that he would be willing to let Him have His way with him regardless of the cost. That feeling of surrender later became the inspiration for the song. It was sold to Henry Lake Gilmour (1836-1920; see #365). The first appearance was in Gospel Praises, compiled for the Hall-Mack Co. of Philadelphia, PA, in 1899 by Gilmour, J. Lincoln Hall (1860-1930), and William James Kirkpatrick (1838-1921; see #411).

Beginning in 1903 to 1907, Nusbaum was presiding elder of the Independent District, and then worked with the church at Parsons, KS, until 1914 when he became conference evangelist. During World War I, he was appointed by Woodrow Wilson as inspector of the American Red Cross in France, holding the rank of captain in the U. S. Army. After the war, he lectured on the Redpath Lyceum circuit and travelled throughout the United States. Also he conducted evangelistic meetings throughout Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas. In addition, he wrote both words and music for a number of gospel songs. Southwestern College awarded him the D. D. degree. The latter part of his life was spent with smaller churches in Kansas, and he was serving at Lost Springs and Antelope at the time of his death, which occurred at Wichita, KS, on Dec. 27, 1937.

Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ, “Let Him Have His Way with Thee” has 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 1935 Christian Hymns (No. 1), the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2, and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 all edited by L. O. Sanderson; the 1959 Majestic Hymnal No. 2 and the 1978 Hymns of Praise both edited by Reuel Lemmons; the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch; the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater; the 1965 Great Christian Hymnal No. 2 edited by Tillit S. Teddlie; the 1971 Songs of the Church and the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed. both 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; the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat; the 2009 Favorite Songs of the Church and the 2010 Songs for Worship and Praise both edited by Robert J. Taylor Jr.; and the 2012 Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs edited by Steve Wolfgang et. al.; in addition to Hymns for Worship and Sacred Selections.

The song speaks of the blessings of a full surrender to Christ.

I. Stanza 1 reminds us that letting Him have His way with us will make us pure and good
Would you live for Jesus, and be always pure and good?
Would you walk with Him within the narrow road?
Would you have Him bear your burden, carry all your load?
Let Him have His way with thee.
A. While we cannot make ourselves pure and good, Christ can purify our souls as we obey the truth: 1 Pet. 1:11
B. He can also help us walk the narrow road that leads to life: Matt. 7:13-14
C. And He can help us take up our cross and follow Him: Matt. 16:24-27

II. Stanza 2 teaches us that letting Him have His way with us will make us free from sin
Would you have Him make you free, and follow at His call?
Would you know the peace that comes by giving all?
Would you have Him save you, so that you can never fall?
Let Him have His way with thee.
A. When we let Him have His way with us, He will make us free from sin: Rom. 6:7-18
B. Having been made free from sin, we can have peace from God: Phil. 4:6-7
C. And we can be kept from falling (orig. “can never fall”): 2 Pet. 1:8-11

III. Stanza 3 tells us that letting Him have His way with us will make us citizens of His kingdom
Would you in His kingdom find a place of constant rest?
Would you prove Him true each providential test?
Would you in His service labor always at your best?
Let Him have His way with thee.
A. His kingdom is His church: Col. 1:13
B. Those who are in His kingdom and live for Him “prove” His will: Rom. 12:1-2
C. But such citizens always need to labor in His service at their best: 1 Cor. 15:58

CONCL.: The chorus re-emphasizes the blessings of submitting to the Lord’s will:
His power can make you what you ought to be;
His blood can cleanse your heart and make you free;
His love can fill your soul, and you will see
’Twas best for Him to have His way with thee.
Whenever we meet someone struggling with spiritual problems in life, we should encourage him or her to look to Christ and “Let Him Have His Way with Thee.”


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