Frances Ridley Havergal wrote so many helpful books, and lived a life so earnest and devoted, that she has had a very deep influence over the hearts of Christians. Of all her poems, the one before us meant the most to her, and has meant the most to the world.
Miss Havergal was born in Astley, England, December 14, 1836. Her father was an Episcopal clergyman, a skilful composer of music, and himself a hymn-writer. She was baptized by another hymn writer, Rev. John Cawood, who wrote "Hark! what mean those holy voices?"
Studying in England and Germany, Miss Havergal became a good Hebrew and Greek scholar, and knew several modern languages. She became also a brilliant singer and piano-player, and a glittering career in society was open before her. But she considered all her talents to be only loans from the Lord, to be used in His service. She would not even sing, except sacred music, and for the purpose of winning souls. She lavished her strength upon work for the Master, teaching in Sunday schools, writing letters, writing many leaflets and books, conducting religious meetings, and making public addresses. She was often sick, and her life was short, but she accomplished a wonderful amount of noble work.
Miss Havergal's beautiful consecration hymn was written on February 4, 1874. Here it is.
Take my life, and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days;
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands, and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet, and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee.
Take my voice, and let me sing,
Always, only, for my King.
Take my lips, and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold;
Not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect, and use
Every power as Thou shalt choose.
Take my will, and make it Thine;
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own;
It shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love; my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure-store.
Take myself, and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.
At the close of 1873 Miss Havergal came to long for a deeper knowledge of God. On Sunday, December 2, of that year she was brought to see, as by a flash of light, that she could not have the full blessedness of a Christian without a full surrender to Christ.
On the first of February, 1874, Miss Havergal was visiting in a home where there were ten persons, some of them not converted, some of them Christians but not very happy ones. A great longing seized upon Miss Havergal that all of these might, before she left, come to know her Saviour as joyfully as she had just come to know Him. That prayer was granted, and before she left the house. On the last night of her stay, February 4, she was too happy to sleep, and spent the night writing this hymn, closing with the triumphant line, "Ever, ONLY, ALL for Thee!"
Miss Havergal made the hymn a standard for her own living. Years afterward she wrote in a letter, "I had a great time early this morning renewing the never-regretted consecration." Then she went on to tell how she found she had really made her own all but the eleventh couplet, about love; she felt that she had not given Christ her love as she wanted to, and she made that the object of her morning consecration.
Sometimes the earnest worker would conduct consecration meetings, and there is an account of one such meeting in particular, at the close of which she gave each person present a card bearing the words of the hymn, and asked them to take the cards home, pray over them, and then, if they could make them their own, sign them on their knees.
This gifted and truly consecrated woman died in Wales on June 3, 1879, at the age of forty-three. She was buried at Astley, and on her tombstone is engraved, as she herself wished, her favorite text: "The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin."