In 1925, a new hymn appeared in the children’s publication, Golden Bells. Titled “May the Mind of Christ, My Savior,” it included Philippians 2:5 as a byline: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” Very little is known about the hymn writer, Kate Wilkinson. She was born in 1859 in England and married in her early thirties. Mrs. Wilkinson attended the Keswick Conventions, which were gatherings of conservative evangelical Christians. She also ministered to girls in West London. This hymn was published when she was sixty-six years old. Three years later, in 1928, Mrs. Wilkinson passed away.
Written as a prayer, this hymn asks for God’s enabling to help us live as Christ would. Deference is “limiting my freedom in order not to offend the tastes of those God has called me to serve.” The opening line—“May the mind of Christ, my Savior Live in me from day to day,”—is a reminder to defer to Christ and seek His perspective throughout each day. In every situation ask: “How would Jesus respond?” or “What would He have me say?”
Each verse in the hymn expounds a secret of the Christian life. First, God’s love and power control me. Second, as I allow the Word of Christ to dwell in my heart and mind, He gives me victory over sin. Next, trusting God in difficult circumstances yields peace for comforting others. Then, when the love of Christ fills my life, it will spill over to those around me. Finally, looking to Jesus gives me strength and endurance. This limiting of myself for the outflow of Christ is a beautiful display of deference.
The last verse of the song seems to be the prayer of Mrs. Wilkinson:
May His beauty rest upon me
As I seek the lost to win,
And may they forget the channel,
Seeing only Him.
As the channel, Mrs. Wilkinson may be forgotten, but her song lives on, pointing others to Christ. The same is true of the little-known composer, A. Cyril Barham-Gould. He was an Anglican priest and composed the tune specifically for this hymn. At the time, he was staying at an English coastal town called St. Leonard’s-on-the-Sea. Thus, the name of the tune is “St. Leonard’s.”
This particular hymn composed by Mrs. Wilkinson and Mr. Barham-Gould gives us the words and music to sing as we ask God to create in us hearts of deference. May we not say or do anything that would distract people from hearing God’s message.