From the historical archives at Melody Publications, we bring to you this account from the "Illustrated History of Hymns and Their Authors" published in 1875.
Origin of “Jesus Lover of My Soul.”
"Charles and John Wesley, and Richard Pilmore were holding one of their twilight meetings on the common, when the mob assailed them, and they were compelled to flee for their lives.
Being separated for a time, as they were being pelted with stones, they at length in their flight, succeeded in getting beyond a hedge row, where they prostrated themselves on the ground, and placed their hands on the back of their heads for protection from the stones which still came so near that they could feel the current of air made by the missiles as they went whizzing over them.
In the night shades that were gathering, they managed to hide from the fury of the rabble in a spring-house.
Here they struck a light with a flint-stone, and after dusting their clothes, and washing, they refreshed themselves with the cooling water that came bubbling up in a spring, and rolling out in a silver streamlet.
Charles Wesley pulled out a lead pencil (made by hammering to a point a piece of lead), and from the inspiration of these surroundings, composed the precious hymn:--
“Jesus, lover of my soul.”
The flight had no doubt suggested the second line:--
“Let me to Thy bosom fly.”
The waters gliding at his feet, --
“While the nearer waters roll.”
Thus it was originally written. (and how it has been restored in the Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs hymnal!) It is now often sung:--
“While the billows near me roll.”
The tempest and storm from which they had just found a hiding-place, the figure,--
“While the tempest still is high;
Hide me, O my Saviour hide
Till the storm of life is past.”
As each was left alone to seek safety in flight,--
“leave, Oh, leave me not alone,
Still support and comfort me.”
Trying to cover their defenceless heads with their hands, the lines, --
“Cover my defenceless head
With the shadow of Thy wing.”
Having sunk to the ground, faint and weary, the third verse.
As this is generally omitted (Yet restored in the Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs hymnal), we give it entire:--
“Wilt Thou not regard my call?
Wilt thou not accept my prayer?
Lo! I sink, I faint, I fall!
Lo! On Thee I cast my care.
Reach me out Thy gracious hand!
While I of Thy strength receive,
Hoping against hope I stand,
Dying, and behold I live.”
Washing their wounds and bruises the thoughts of the last verse, which is the fifth in the original,--
“Let the healing streams abound,
Make and keep me pure within,”
And lastly, the fountain of spring-water from which they drank, and obtained fresh life,--
“Thou of life the fountain art,
Freely let me take of Thee.
Spring Thou up within my heart
Rise to all eternity.”
These interesting facts were given by Mr. Pilmore, who was an eye-witness, to an intimate friend, Mr. Hicks, who stated them to Rev. I.H. Torrence of Philadelphia, from whom I received them.
The same statement was also previously given to me by the aged Rev. Dr. Collier, who received them from an Englishman, who was co-temporary with Wesley."