My Jesus I Love Thee

I grew up in a small-town Baptist church. My first experience with singing publicly was in church choir under my father’s direction as music minister. It was on one such occasion that I was introduced to My Jesus I Love Thee a poem written by, teenager, William Ralph Featherston in 1864. The words were later put to music by Adoniram Gordon (founder of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) and so became a beloved hymn. This appears to be Featherston’s only published work.

In my own teenage years I watched my father lead and perform this song on numerous occasions and it has always held a dear place in my heart. There is something so personal about the words “my Jesus” — to me it portrays great depth in relationship to the Savior. This is one of the reasons I like the song so much; as I sing it I feel this same depth of care to abide in Christ, much as John 15 displays through Christ’s own words:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.” (John 15:1–17, ESV)

It has been many years since I recorded this version of the song. I had a little help in doing so. Mike Sherrard and Hugh Cooper of Like Isaiah recorded this with me. It was never a L.I. tune. Instead it was a b-side for the Higgins project I released in 2004, making it a perfect addition to my on-going series of Lost Songs.

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