“Yield Not To Temptation”



“Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation” (Matt. 26:41)

    INTRO.:  A song which encourages us to keep from entering temptation is “Yield Not To Temptation” (#442 in Hymns for Worship Revised, #111 in Sacred Selections for the Church).  The text was written and the tune (Palmer or Yield Not) was composed both by Horatio Richmond Palmer, who was born at Sherburn, NY, on Apr. 26, 1834.  After early music instruction from his father and his aunt, he studied in New York City, NY, Berlin, Germany, and Florence, Italy.  In 1857, he became head of the music department at Rushford Academy in New York, and served as music director at the Rushford Baptist Church.  After the Civil War, he moved to Chicago, IL, where he edited a monthly music journal known as The Concordia, wrote various books, and conducted music festivals with great success.

One day, while Palmer was working on the dry subject of music theory, the idea for this hymn came to him in a flash, so he laid aside the theoretical work and hurriedly penned both the words and the melody as fast as he could write.  Later he submitted them to a friend for criticism, and some changes were made in the third stanza.  The song first appeared in his Sabbath School Songs, published in 1868 at Chicago by Adams, Blackmer, and Lyon.  Returning to New York, he organized the Church Choral Union of New York City, which gave massive concerts.  At one such concert at Madison Square Garden, he conducted four thousand voices.  From 1877 to 1891, he was dean of the summer school of music for the assemblies at Chautauqua, NY.

A well-known American music teacher, songwriter, and composer in his day, he produced a number of hymns, many of which were published by the Biglow and Main Company of New York City, edited popular song collections, and produced other musical works.  Some of his more popular books include The Song Queen, The Song King, The Song Herald, The Sovereign, Palmer’s Theory of Music, Palmer’s Piano Primer, The Common Sense Music Reader, the Choral Union, and Concert Choruses.  Other well-known hymns with music by him are “Peace, Be Still” (beginning “Master, the tempest is raging”) by Mary Ann Baker, “Come, Sinner, Come” (beginning “While Jesus whispers to you”) by William E. Witter, and “Love One Another” (beginning “Angry words, O let them never”) by an unknown author.  Palmer’s death occurred at Yonkers, NY, on Nov. 15, 1907.

Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use among churches of Christ,  “Yield Not To Temptation” 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, the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed., and the 1994 Songs of Faith and Praise, all edited by Alton H. Howard; the 1978/1983 Church Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; 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 presents several things that we can do to help us keep from yielding to temptation.

I. From stanza 1, we learn that we must determine to fight manfully onward
Yield not to temptation, for yielding is sin;
Each victory will help you some other to win;
Fight manfully onward, dark passions subdue,
Look ever to Jesus, He’ll carry you through.
A. It is important not to yield to temptation because yielding is sin: Jas. 1:14-15
B. Therefore, we should strive to gain victory over it: 1 Jn. 5:4
C. To gain this victory, we must fight manfully onward: 1 Tim. 6:12. The battle with temptation is a life-long one, and the first step towards winning is to resolve that we will fight the good fight of the faith
II. From stanza 2, we learn that we must avoid evil companions and their bad influences
Shun evil companions, bad language disdain,
God’s name hold in reverence, nor take it in vain;
Be thoughtful and earnest, kindhearted and true,
Look ever to Jesus, He’ll carry you through.
A. We need to recognize the dangers of evil companionships: 1 Cor. 15:33
B. One of these dangers is the use of bad language: Eph. 4:29
C. Instead of these evil influences, we should be kindhearted: Eph. 4:31-32. Because each of us is influenced by what we see and hear from others, we should strive to keep ourselves unspotted from the world
III. From stanza 3, we learn that we must look to Jesus for help and keep our eyes on the crown
To him that o’ercometh, God giveth a crown;
Through faith we shall conquer, though often cast down;
He who is our Savior our strength will renew;
Look ever to Jesus, He’ll carry you through.
A. God has promised a crown to those who overcome: Rev. 2:10
B. By looking to Jesus, we can conquer: Rom. 8:35-37
C. Our Savior will renew our strength as we look to Him and set our affections above: Col. 3:1-2. Since both the crown that we hope for and the Savior from whom we seek help are in heaven, we should always be looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith

CONCL.:  The chorus again reminds us that when we face temptation we should seek help from Jesus

Ask the Savior to help you,

Comfort, strengthen and keep you;

He is willing to aid you,

He will carry you through.

Some object to the phrase “Ask the Savior to help you,” apparently because they believe that it is wrong to pray to Jesus, and I have actually heard people sing instead, “Ask the Father to help you.”  However, whatever one’s position on praying to Jesus is, I would think that we can simply understand the idea of asking the Savior to help us as calling upon Him in the song to be our Mediator when we pray to the Father.   The stanzas were originally written for soprano and alto duet, as in Hymns for Worship Revised.  Several arrangements with all four parts have been made, including one in 1960 for Sacred Selections for the Church.  When I was growing up, my piano teacher told me that her father, who had been a state representative from our area in the early 1900s, often said that every young person should memorize and live by the words of the song “Yield Not to Temptation.”


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