Jesus, My Savior, Look on Me


(picture of Arthur S. Sullivan)


“When He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion on them” (Matt. 9:36)

     INTRO.:  A hymn which asks Jesus to look on us with compassion as He did on the multitudes is “Jesus, My Savior, Look on Me” (#521 in Hymns for Worship Revised).  The text was written by Charlotte Elliot (1789-1871).  It was first published in her 1869 work Thoughts in Verse on Sacred Subjects.  Miss Elliot is best known for her hymn “Just As I Am, Without One Plea.”  The tune (Hanford or Sullivan) used with “Jesus, My Savior, Look on Me” was composed by Arthur Seymour Sullivan, who was born at Bolwell Terrace in Lambeth, England, on May 13, 1842.  At the age of twelve, he was a chorister of the Chapel Royal under Thomas Helmore.  Educated at the Royal Academy of Music in England, where he studied under W. Sterndale Bennett and John Goss, he also studied at the Leipzig Conservatory in Germany, where his teachers included Moritz Hauptmann, Felicien David, and Ignaz Moscheles.

After his return to England, Sullivan held several organist positions and in 1866 became professor of composition at the Royal Academy of Music.  He composed a great deal of church music, and most of his hymn tunes were produced between 1867 and 1874.  This one was written in 1871 at Hanford in Dorsetshire, England, when he was a guest in the home of Mrs. Gertrude Clay-Ker-Seymer.   His tunes appear in two hymnbooks of which he was the editor, The Hymnary of 1872 and Church Hymns with Tunes of 1874.  This tune was first published in the latter.  It is often used with another Charlotte Elliot hymn of 1834, “My God, My Father, Though I Stray.”  Perhaps Sullivan’s most famous tune was provided, also in 1871, for the 1864 hymn “Onward, Christian Soldiers” by his good friend Sabine Baring-Gould.

However, Sullivan is best remembered for the music which he composed with the librettos and lyrics of Sir William Schwenck Gilbert for the Savoy Opera of London, including H. M. S. Pinafore in 1878, The Pirates of Penzance in 1879, and The Mikado in 1885, along with other secular pieces such as “The Lost Chord.”  These works brought him international fame for which he was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1883, and the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas became a part of English tradition.  Sullivan did not believe that popular melodies should be used for hymns and so declined numerous requests for permission to make hymn tune arrangements from his operetta music.  He died at Westminster, England, on Nov. 22, 1900.  Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ, the text of “Jesus, My Savior, Look on Me,” to my knowledge, has appeared only in Hymns for Worship Revised.

The song expresses a request for Jesus to provide for our spiritual needs.

I. Stanza 1 asks for rest

Jesus, my Savior, look on me,

For I am weary and oppressed;

I come to cast myself on Thee:

Thou art my Rest.

1. We often are weary because we are oppressed by the trials and tribulations of life: Ps. 9.9

2. However, we can come to Jesus the Savior to cast our cares on Him: 1 Pet. 5:7

3. He is our Rest who will give us rest: Matt. 11:28-30

II. Stanza 2 asks for strength

Look down on me, for I am weak;

I feel the toilsome journey’s length;

Thine aid omnipotent I seek:

Thou art my Strength.

  1. Many times we find that as human beings the flesh is weak: Matt. 26:41
  2. However, Jesus is omnipotent or all powerful and will give us aid: Heb. 2:17-18
  3. He is our Strength who will provide us with strength: Eph. 3:16

III. Stanza 3 asks for light

I am bewildered on my way,

Dark and tempestuous is the night;

O send Thou forth some cheering ray:

Thou art my Light.

  1. This world is often pictured as a place of darkness: Jn. 3:19
  2. God promised to send out a cheering ray: Mal. 4:2
  3. Jesus is the Light who enables us to have light: Jn. 8:12

IV. Stanza 4 (not in HFWR) asks for peace

When Satan flings his fiery darts,

I look to Thee; my terrors cease;

Thy cross a hiding place imparts:

Thou art my Peace.

  1. As long as we live in this world of spiritual warfare, Satan will fling his fiery darts at us: Eph. 6:16
  2. However, the cross is a refuge behind which we can find protection: 1 Cor. 1:18
  3. Jesus is the Peace who makes it possible for us to have peace: Col. 4:6-7

V. Stanza 5 (also not in HFWR) asks for life

Standing alone on Jordan’s brink,

In that tremendous latest strife,

Thou will not suffer me to sink:

Thou art my Life.

  1. Someday we shall stand at the brink of death just as the Israelites stood on Jordan’s brink waiting to cross over into the promised land: Josh. 3:1
  2. At that time, Jesus will not let us sink, just as He did not let Peter sink: Matt. 14:28-31
  3. Jesus is our Life who brings us life: Jn. 10:10

VI. Stanza 6 (#4 in HFWR) asks for Christ to be our all

Thou wilt my every want supply,

E’en to the end, whate’er befall;

Through life, in death, eternally,

Thou art my All.

  1. Just as a shepherd provides for all the needs of his flock, so the Lord will supply all our wants: Ps. 23:1
  2. And He has promised to be with us even to the end: Matt. 28:20
  3. Thus, He is our All who grants us all that we need: Col. 3:11, 2 Pet. 1:3

CONCL.:  There is another stanza, #4:

I hear the storms around me rise;

But when I dread th’impending shock,

My spirit to the Refuge flies:

Thou art my Rock.

My life will have its share of problems.  However, my Lord who loves me and died for me does not expect me to deal with them all alone.  He has promised to be with me and help me.  Therefore, I should constantly be asking Him, “Jesus, My Savior, Look on Me.”


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