“CHRIST’S LOVE IS ALL I NEED”
“Know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:19)
INTRO.: A song which exhorts us to know the love of Christ that we might be filled with all the fullness of God is “Christ’s Love is All I Need” (#371 in Hymns for Worship Revised, #264 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written and the tune (Christ’s Love) was composed both by George William Sides, who was born Aug. 29, 1880, in the Pleasant Grove community of Walker County, AL, to William Lafayette and Martha Elizabeth Sides. Information about George W. Sides has been hard to find, but David R. Hamrick ( http://drhamrick.blogspot.com/2012/02/christs-love-is-all-i-need.html ) has been able to piece together a biography from primary sources such as census records and newspaper articles. As a young man Sides went to work in the coal mines at nearby Carbon Hill, but by age thirty he was back in Pleasant Grove as a music teacher. On Oct. 13 of that same year, 1910, he married Alice Pearl Ray, and the couple went on to have three children, Mary, George Jr., and Jennie.
It was probably during this period that Sides published his first paperback hymnbook, the undated Perennial Hymns of Praise, edited with L. Dow McDonald, R. H. Brooks and J. T. Lane, which was published simultaneously by Sides in Oakman, AL, and by Brooks in Whitesburg, TN. Sides moved his family to the neighborhood of Hatley in Monroe County, MS, in 1912. Though his primary occupation was farming, during this time he was also associated with the Stanley-Gardner Company, a gospel music publisher in Saltillo, MS, owned by James Henry Stanley (composer of “Prepare to meet thy God”) and W. P. Gardner. Sides produced two books for Stanley-Gardner, Our Tidings of Praise, co-edited with J. H. Stanley, and The Golden Harp, co-edited with J. H. Pannell and Samuel W. Beazley.
“Christ’s Love Is All I Need,” beginning, “Though dark and dreary be life’s way,” first appeared in the 1924 Gospel Sunshine, from B. B. Bateman in Knoxville, TN. Other songs by Sides from the years of 1924 to 1926 published by Bateman include “Get right,” “Glory all the way,” “He died for me,” “Home of the soul,” “I’ve found the glory way,” “Riches untold,” “Sinful pleasures now are past,” “Sometime, but when I cannot tell,” “The Lord has been so good to me,” and “Who can take away your sin?” Hambrick noted that if Sides wrote this many songs in three years, he probably wrote many more, though it is possible that some of these were reprints from earlier years. In 1929 George W. Sides moved his family further west to farm in the Pettit community just outside Greenville, MS. In later years he served three terms as a justice of the peace and passed away on November 3, 1956, in Avon, MS, south of Greenville.
Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ, “Christ’s Love Is All I Need” has appeared in the 1938/1944 New Wonderful Songs edited by Thomas S. Cobb; 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 Hymns of Praise edited by Reuel Lemmons; the 1978/1983 Church Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; and the 2009 Favorite Songs of the Church and the 2010 Songs for Worship and Praise both edited by Robert J. Taylor Jr.; in addition to Hymns for Worship and Sacred Selections.
The song suggests several situations in which we look to Christ’s love for guidance.
I. Stanza 1 says that Christ’s love will lead us through the dark and dreary ways of life
Though dark and dreary be life’s way And burdens hard to bear;
There’s One whose love will never fail, My heart shall ne’er despair.
My hope is staid in Him today, And He will safely lead
To that sweet home beyond the sea; Christ’s love is all I need.
A. While the Christian finds many things to enjoy in this life, all of us experience days of darkness from time to time: Eccl. 11:7-8
B. While friends on earth may forsake us during such times, the Lord is one whose love will never fail: Ps. 27:10
C. Therefore, like Jeremiah, we should stay our hope in His love: Lam. 3:21-23
II. Stanza 2 says that Christ’s love will lead us through the trials and storms of life
Though trials press on every side And many snares there be;
I look in simple faith to Him Who calmed the stormy sea.
He is the Shepherd kind and true, His sheep He’ll ever feed;
This cheers me on and makes me strong, Christ’s love is all I need.
A, Jesus showed His power by calming the stormy sea: Matt. 8:23-27
B. Therefore, like sheep with their shepherd, we depend on Him to help us in the trials and tribulations of life: Jn. 10:14-15
C. The love of this powerful Shepherd will help to make us strong in times of storm: Eph. 3:16-17
III. Stanza 3 says that Christ’s love will lead us through death to heaven
And when I hear the boatman’s call, “Come cross the chilly tide;”
I shall not fear to launch my bark, For Christ is at my side.
He bore the sting of death for me, Has met my every need;
And so I sing the sweet refrain, Christ’s love is all I need.
A. The “boatman’s call” refers to the time of death, an appointment that all will keep: Heb. 9:27
B. However, those who are in Christ need not fear to launch their barks because Christ has delivered us from the fear of death: Heb. 2:14-15
C. Because He bore the sting of death for us, through Him we can have victory even in death and finally over death: 1 Cor. 15:54-56
CONCL.: The chorus (which I sometimes omit) reminds us how important Christ’s love is to our lives.
Christ’s love is all I need each day,
I know, I know, Christ’s precious love is all I need;
He’ll lead me safely on life’s way,
I know, I know Christ’s precious, precious love is all I need.
I trust that I shall have my share of good times in life, and I know that I shall have my share of bad times too. However, through everything, one fact that I must remember is that “Christ’s Love Is All I Need.”