Song Origin: I Need Thee Every Hour

Psalm 57

1God Most High, have pity on me!  Have mercy.  I run to you for safety.  In the shadow of your wings, I seek protection till danger dies down.   2I pray to you, my protector.  3You will send help from heaven and save me… (vv.1-3, CEV)

We live in a nation that worships the concept of “independence!”  But not “dependence.”  Stop being so needy we tell others.  Truth be told… we are all needy.  We all need and receive help from God and others on a daily basis.  None of us can claim we did it OUR way… we were helped along the way!

Max Lucado shares an encounter he had with his 3 year old nephew, Lawson:  “He asked me to play some basketball.  A towheaded, spark plug of a boy, he delights in anything round and bouncy.  When he spotted the basketball and goal in my driveway, he couldn’t resist.  The ball, however, was as big as his midsection.  The basket was three times his height.  His best heaves fell way short.  So I set out to help him.  I lowered the goal from ten feet to eight feet.  I led him closer to the target.  I showed him how to “granny toss” the ball.  Nothing helped.  The ball never threatened  the net.  So I gave him a lift.  With one hand on his back and my other beneath his little bottom, I lifted him higher and higher until he was eye level with the rim.

“Make a basket, Lawson!” I urged.  And he did.  He rolled the ball over the iron hoop, and down it dropped.  Swoosh!  And how did little Lawson respond?  Still cradled in my hands, he punched both fists into the air and declared, “All by myself!  All by myself!”  (Max Lucado, Out Live Your Life, p. 97.)

Interesting perspective, huh?  Aren’t we the same sometimes?   Yet in our lives we sometimes let radical independence keep us from seeking out help at all.  We need Him every hour!

The lyrics to the old hymn, “I Need Thee Every Hour” were written in 1872 by Annie Hawks.   Ms. Annie Sherwood Hawks was born in New York in May 1835 and was residing in Bennington, Vermont at her death on January 8, 1918. She was a prolific writer and began writing verse at the age of fourteen. She wrote dozens of articles for magazines and newspapers and wrote almost 400 hymns during her lifetime. Ms. Hanks began writing religious verse at the request of her Baptist pastor Robert Lowry who would then put the verse to music. This song was by far her most famous hymn.

When she was asked about how her inspiration for the hymn, she wrote:  “One day as a young wife and mo­ther of 37 years of age, I was bu­sy with my reg­u­lar house­hold tasks. Sud­den­ly, I be­came so  filled with the sense of near­ness to the Mast­er that, won­der­ing how one could live with­out Him, ei­ther in joy or pain, these words, “I Need Thee Ev­e­ry Hour,” were ush­ered in­to my mind, the thought at once tak­ing full pos­sess­ion of me. Seating myself by the open window in the balmy air of the bright June day, I caught up my pencil and the words were soon committed to paper.”

I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord;
No tender voice like Thine can peace afford.

I need Thee, oh, I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
Oh, bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.

I need Thee every hour, stay Thou nearby;
Temptations lose their pow’r when Thou art nigh.

I need Thee every hour, in joy or pain;
Come quickly and abide, or life is vain.

I need Thee every hour; teach me Thy will;
And Thy rich promises in me fulfill.

I need Thee every hour, most Holy One;
Oh, make me Thine indeed, Thou blessed Son.

I can’t make it in this life “all by myself.”  Like the mighty warrior David, I will run for safety… knowing he will send what I need from heaven.  I need Him every hour.

Come quickly, Lord, abide… or life is indeed vain.

One thought on “Song Origin: I Need Thee Every Hour

  1. You may like this:

    Here is a video clip from the 145th anniversary service of Sixth Avenue Baptist Church. Yvette Bennett reprises a historical interpretation of a visit from Annie Sherwood Hawks. Annie was a poet, a hymn writer, and one of the founding members of Sixth Avenue Baptist Church. In the video Annie tells stories about two hymns. The first is “Shall We Gather at the River”, which was written by founding pastor, Robert Lowry. She then tells the story of “I Need Thee Every Hour” which she wrote as a poem, and Robert Lowry wrote the melody. Sixth Avenue Baptist Church is in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York.


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