Very little is known about Margaret Jenkins Harris, the author and musical composer of this joyful gospel hymn. She was born in 1865 in Rushville, Illinois, and was married to Evangelist John Harris. The couple was active in revival and camp meeting ministry throughout the Midwest.
Margaret played the organ and sang with her husband in their evangelistic meetings. She edited “Spirit Songs” and “Glorious Gospel in Song,” both collections published by Christian Witness Publishing Company of Chicago. “He Took My Sins Away” was another well-loved song she wrote.
“I Will Praise Him” was written in 1895 as a personal testimony, relating to the time when she realized she was a sinner and needed God’s forgiveness. The song emphasizes reasons why Christians should praise the Lord, stressing Christ’s cleansing blood, as had been prophesied in Zechariah 13:1. When the straight and narrow path is chosen, Christ’s guidance is experienced in the life that is surrendered to Him. In John 6:37, we are promised that when He takes us in, we will never be cast out. The refrain bursts forth with praise and with the charge to “give Him glory all ye people, For His blood can wash away each stain.”
Margaret Jenkins Harris died in 1919 in Miami, Florida. Her name will probably not be remembered by many, but untold numbers have been blessed by the singing of this hymn. For decades the refrain was spontaneously sung during prayer and testimony meetings in Bible-preaching churches throughout the Midwest. I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. (Psalm 34:1)
When I saw the cleansing fountain
Open wide for all my sin,
I obeyed the Spirit’s wooing
When he said, Wilt thou be clean?
I will praise him, I will praise him,
Praise the Lamb for sinners slain;
Give him glory all ye people,
For his blood can wash away each stain.
Though the way seemed straight and narrow,
All I claimed was swept away;
My ambitions, plans, and wishes,
At my feet in ashes lay.
Then God’s fire upon the altar
Of my heart was set aflame;
I shall never cease to praise him,
Glory! glory! to his name.
Blessed be the name of Jesus,
I’m so glad he took me in;
He’s forgiven my transgressions,
He has cleansed my heart from sin.
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