I Gave My Life For Thee


The story behind the hymn “I Gave My Life For Thee” as told by its author, Francis Ridley Havergal (1836-1879), in response to a letter sent to her.

     “My dear unknown Friend in Jesus—Mrs. S. asked me to write and answer myself your question about the hymn, “I Gave My Life for Thee.” Yes, it is mine, and perhaps it may interest you to hear how nearly it went into the fire, instead of nearly all over the world.

     “It was, I think, the very first thing I ever wrote which could be called a hymn, written when I was quite a young girl (1859). I did not half realize what I was writing about. I was following very far off, always doubting and fearing. I think I had come to Jesus with a trembling, hem-touching faith, but it was a coming in the press, and behind, never seeing His face, or feeling sure that He loved me, though I was clear that I could not do without Him, and wanted to serve and follow Him.

“I don’t know how I came to write it. I scribbled it in pencil on the back of a circular, in a few minutes, and then read it over and thought, “Well, this is not poetry, anyhow! I won’t go to the trouble to copy this.” So I reached out my hand to put it into the fire! A sudden impulse made me draw it back; I put it, crumpled and singed, into my pocket. Soon after I went out to see a dear old woman in an alms house. She began talking to me, as she always did, about her dear Saviour, and I thought I would see if she, a simple old woman, would care for these verses, which I felt sure nobody else would ever care to read. So I read them to her, and she was so delighted with them that, when I went back, I copied them out, and kept them, and now the Master has sent them out in all directions. I have seen tears while they have been sung at mission services, and have heard of them being really blessed to many.”

“I gave my life for thee,
My precious blood I shed,
That thou might’st ransom’d be,
And quickened from the dead.
I gave, I gave my life for thee:
What hast thou given for me?

I spent long years for thee
In weariness and woe,
That an eternity
Of joy thou mightiest know.
I spent, I spent long years for thee;
Hast thou spent one for me?

My Father’s home of light,
my rainbow circled throne,
I left, for earthly night,
For wanderings sad and lone;
I left, I left it all for thee:
Hast thou left aught for me?

I suffered much for thee,
More than thy tongue may tell,
Of bitt’rest agony,
To rescue thee from hell;
I’ve borne, I’ve borne it all for thee:
What canst thou bear for me?

And I have brought to thee,
Down from my home above,
Salvation full and free,
My pardon and my love;
Great gifts, great gifts I brought to thee;
What hast thou brought to me?

O, let thy life be given,
Thy years for him be spent,
World fetters all be riv’n,
And joy with suff’ring blent;
I gave, I gave myself for thee:
Give thou thyself to me!”

The quotation can be found on pages 200-201 in the “Illustrated History of Hymns and their Authors” by Edward McKean Long, published in 1875.

Melody Publications is an organization focused on reawakening the melody of truth in the hearts and minds of believers at home and abroad. Our prayer is that our work would aid churches and families as they sing “Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs” in praise and in worship to our God.


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Who can say that they have sacrificed anything for God? Certainly not I! He has given me everything, What can I offer him seeing that everything I have He has first graciously given me? What a glorious thought these lines inspire!

Daniel Bach

I love this old hymn. I remember singing it in the church where I was baptized into Christ in the 1970s. What a blessing to be reminded of it in these dark times! Thank you

Elizabeth K King

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