Did y'all know that there are many hymn writers that struggled with Chronic Illness and Pain? It is one of the reasons why hymns are so dear to my heart. As I sing their truth I know that their words were written from a place of difficulty and that born from that came a rich and deep knowledge of the Lord's precious care and love.
A couple of months ago I shared the story behind one of my favorite hymns, Pass Me Not. Today I wanted to share about a woman whose writings inspired several well-known hymns including "Tell Me the Old, Old Story" and "I Love to Tell the Story". Katherine (Kate) Hankey was born in London England in 1834. While not much is known about how she came to know Jesus as her personal Savior history does share that she developed a Bible class in her younger years and later organized Sunday Schools for girls throughout London. She taught many classes and even published writings and gospel tracts that she handed out in her class. She was also apart of an influential group called, "Clapham Sect" which included many prominent and wealthy evangelical Anglicans, one of the most well known, William Wilberforce. Katherine, who had a heart for missions, spent some time in Africa as a nurse serving alongside her brother.
But life changed for Kate when, in her thirties, she became seriously ill and after a lengthy illness became bedridden during a lengthy recovery period that lasted almost a year. It was during this time that she wrote her (now) famous poem, "The Old, Old Story". In the midst of pain "truth"- specifically God's truth is so important isn't it? These hymns are such an encouragement to me and I thought I would share with y'all the original poem that has encouraged the hearts of so many:
The Old, Old Story
by: Katharine Hankey
Tell me the old, old story Of unseen things above,—Of JESUS and His glory, Of JESUS and His love. Tell me the story simply, As to a little child; For I am weak and weary, And helpless and defiled. Tell me the story slowly, That I may take it in,—That wonderful redemption, God's REMEDY for sin! Tell me the story often, For I forget so soon! The "early dew" of morning Has passed away at noon! Tell me the story softly, With earnest tones and grave; Remember, I'm the sinner Whom Jesus came to save. Tell me the story always, If you would really be, In any time of trouble, A comforter to me. Tell me the same old story When you have cause to fear That this world's empty glory Is costing me too dear. Yes, and when that world's glory Shall dawn upon my soul, Tell me the old, old story,
"CHRIST JESUS MAKES THEE WHOLE."
You ask me for "the story Of unseen things above,— Of JESUS and His glory, Of JESUS and His love."You want "the old, old story, And nothing else will do! Indeed I cannot wonder,
It always seems so new! I often wish that some one Would tell it me, each day; I never should get tired Of what they had to say. But I am wasting moments! Oh, how shall I begin To tell "the old, old Story," How Jesus saves from sin? Listen, and I will tell you; God help both you and me, And make "the old, old story" His Message unto thee! Once, in a pleasant garden, God placed a happy pair; And all within was peaceful, And all around was fair. But oh! they disobeyed Him! The one thing He denied They longed for, took and tasted They ate it, and—they died! Yet, in His love and pity At once the Lord declared How man, though lost and ruined, Might after all be spared! For one of Eve's descendants, Not sinful, like the rest, Should spoil the work of Satan And man be saved and blest! [He] should be son of Adam, But Son of God as well, And bring a full salvation From sin and death and hell.
Hundreds of years were over Adam and Eve had died The following generation And many more beside. At last, some shepherds, watching Beside their flocks at night, Were startled in the darkness By strange and heavenly light. One of the holy angels Had come from Heaven above,To tell the true, true story, Of Jesus and His love. He came to bring "glad tidings,"
"You need not, must not, fear; For Christ, your new-born Saviour, Lies in the village near!" And many other angels Took up the story then— "To God on high be glory Good-will and peace to men." And was it true—that story? They went at once to see, And found Him in a manger, And knew that it was He. He whom the Father promised, So many ages past,
Had come to save poor sinners, He had come at last! That was indeed His purpose, To seek and save the lost, Although He knew beforehand— Knew all that it would cost. He lived a life most holy; His every thought was love, And every action showed it, To man, and God above. His path in life was lowly,— He was a working-Man: Who knows the poor man's trials
So well as Jesus can? His last three years were lovely He could no more be hid; And time and strength would fail me To tell the good He did. He gave away no money, For He had none to give; But He had power of healing, And made dead people live. He did kind things so kindly!
It seemed His heart's delight To make poor people happy, From morning until night!
He always seemed at leisure For every one who came; However tired or busy, They found Him just "the same." He heard each tale of sorrow With an attentive ear. And took away each burden Of suffering, sin, or fear. He was "a Man of Sorrows!" And when He gave relief He gave it like a brother, Acquainted with the grief. Such was "the Man Christ Jesus!" The Friend of sinful man!
— But hush! the tale grows sadder, I'll tell it—if I can! This gentle, holy Jesus, Without a spot or stain, By wicked hands was taken, And crucified, and slain! Look! look! if you can bear it— Look at your dying Lord Stand near the cross and watch Him: "Behold the Lamb of God!" His Hands and Feet are piercèd, He cannot hide His Face; And cruel men stand staring, In crowds, about the place. They laugh at Him and mock Him! They tell Him to "come down," And leave that cross of suffering, And change it for a crown. Why did He bear their mockings? Was He "the Mighty God?" And could He have destroyed them With one almighty word? Yes, Jesus could have done it; But let me tell you why He would not use His power, But chose to stay and die. He had become our "Surety;" And what we could not pay, He paid instead, and for us, On that one dreadful day. For our sins He suffered; For our sins He died; And "not for ours only," But "all the world's" beside! And now, the work is "finished!" The sinner's debt is paid Because on "Christ the Righteous" The sin of all was laid. Oh, wonderful redemption! God's remedy for sin!The door of heaven is open, And you may enter in! For God released our "Surety,"To show the work was done; And Jesus' resurrection Declared the victory won! And now, He has ascended, And sits upon the throne, "To be a Prince and Saviour," And claim us for His own.
But when He left His people, He promised them to send"The Comforter," to teach them,
And guide them to the end. And that same Holy Spirit Is with us to this day,
And ready now to teach us The "new and living way."This is "the old, old story!" Say, do you take it in— This wonderful redemption, God's remedy for sin? Do you at heart believe it?— Do you believe it's true, And meant for EVERY SINNER, And, therefore, meant for you? Then take this "GREAT SALVATION" [For] Jesus loves to give! Believe! and you receive it! Believe! and you shall live! And if this simple message Has now brought peace to you, Make known "the old, old story," For others need it too. Let everybody see it, That Christ has made you free; And if it sets them longing, Say, "Jesus died for thee!" Soon, soon, our eyes shall see Him! And, in our home above, We'll sing "the old, old story"
Of "Jesus and His love!"