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Hymn History: “Jesus Calls Us”

2 min

The year was 1852, and the place was Ireland. The Reverend William Alexander and his wife, Cecil Frances Alexander, were discussing the sermon he was planning to preach on Sunday. Sunday would be St. Andrew’s Day, commemorating when Jesus called His disciple Andrew to leave his nets and follow Him. Reverend Alexander planned to base his sermon on this Biblical account. Mrs. Alexander enjoyed listening to her husband preach. One of his previous sermons had inspired her to write a poem, “The Burial of Moses.” A published writer of children’s hymns, her talent would soon be a blessing to her husband once again.

As the couple discussed the upcoming sermon, the reverend asked his beloved wife if she would write a poem that he could read from the pulpit. Mrs. Alexander happily agreed and set to work studying the Scripture text. The Irish lady was inspired, especially as she read of Christ’s call to us, too. The hymn “Jesus Calls Us” was completed, and Mrs. Alexander rejoiced hearing it read at the close of her husband’s sermon the following Sunday.

Loyalty is “using difficult times to demonstrate my commitment to God and to those He has called me to serve.” Mrs. Alexander demonstrated this character quality in her marriage. As a single lady, she had become a famous, published author. She married the poor but Godly preacher, William Alexander. Choosing gladly to be a minister’s wife—a life of service and not riches—she assisted him as his loyal helpmate. Her husband wrote that, “From one poor home [in our parish] to another, from one bed of sickness to another, from one sorrow to another, she [Mrs. Alexander] went. Christ was with her and in her, and hungry souls felt and appreciated her influence.”

The words of Mrs. Alexander’s hymn describe well how Christ calls us to be loyal to Him:

In our joys and in our sorrows,
Days of toil and hours of ease,
Still He calls, in cares and pleasures,
“Christian, love Me more than these.”

We are loyal to what we love. Jesus asked Simon Peter in John 21:15: “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?” We need to ask ourselves that very same question. Do we love Jesus more than our hobbies, our activities, our friends? As we accept God’s love for us and love Him in return, we will grow to trust Him and be loyal to Him and those He has called us to serve.

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