I am in my study at church and was wondering what to write for the Sanitizer. Our
church hymnbook was on top of the heap on my desk and I thought, “Open it and see if
a hymn jumps out at you.” I opened the book and the first hymn I saw was number
392. Perfect! I look at the date it was written and it discovered it had been written in
1918. Perfect. That was at the conclusion of the First World War, the first war that
used “industrial warfare” leading to unimaginable slaughter. How exhausted people
must have been then; how glad to have the war over. It was also the time of the
influenza outbreak which raced through the population.
What would people pray at a time like that? Well this hymn, “Take Thou Our Minds,
Dear Lord” is a prayer that fed the spiritual hunger of people back then. Notably the
hymn touched the hearts of young people. I have printed for you the origin of the hymn
below from hymnary.org on the internet. This hymn may have been a good hymn for
then, but it is just as good now or any time.
The hymn is in the section of our hymnal (“Hymns, Psalms and Spiritual Songs,”
Westminster/John Knox, 1990) called “Life in Christ.” It brings to mind Philippians 2
where we read, 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ
Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing
to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant,[a] being born in the
likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form he humbled himself and became
obedient unto death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and
bestowed on him the name which is above every name.
The second verse grabbed me, “Take thou our hearts, O Christ, they are thine own.” It
reminds me of John Calvin’s motto, I offer my heart to thee O Lord, promptly and
sincerely.” Deuteronomy 6 says “you shall love the Lord your God with all your
heart.” In Ezekiel 36 God says, “26 A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put
within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of
flesh.” In Luke chapter 12 we read that where our treasure is, there will our heart be
also. What do we want to do with our hearts? Give them to Jesus! Jesus is our true
treasure. And we are God’s treasure, his beloved children.
Okay, Okay. Here is the text of this hymn/prayer:
1 Take Thou our minds, dear Lord, we humbly pray;
Give us the mind of Christ each passing day;
Teach us to know the truth that sets us free;
Grant us in all our thoughts to honor Thee.
2 Take Thou our hearts, O Christ, they are Thine own;
Come Thou within our souls and claim Thy throne;
Help us to shed abroad Thy deathless love;
Use us to make the earth like heaven above.
3 Take Thou our wills, Most High! Hold Thou full sway;
Have in our inmost souls Thy perfect way;
Guard Thou each sacred hour from selfish ease;
Guide Thou our ordered lives as Thou dost please.
4 Take Thou ourselves, O Lord, heart, mind, and will;
Through our surrendered souls Thy plans fulfill.
We yield ourselves to Thee— time, talents, all;
We hear, and henceforth heed, Thy sovereign call.
One more comment. I can’t resist. “Help us to spread abroad thy deathless
love. ““Deathless love.” What an amazing way to describe Christ’s love for us!
Maybe it would be a good idea to print this hymn out and pray it from time to time.
I will lead us in prayer, and after that prayer on the page below is the story of the hymn.
Let us pray. Take thou our minds, Dear Lord. Take our souls as well. Claim your
throne in us. Rule our lives. Guide our lives according to your pleasure, not ours. We
hear and henceforth heed your sovereign call, dear Lord. Amen.
“[This hymn] was written at the earnest solicitation of a conference group which met at
Emporia College, Kansas, in the summer of 1918. That year the morning prayers were
conducted in the dining room and they were unusually impressive. However, the young
people felt that they would like to have a prayer hymn that they could call peculiarly their
own, and requested the present author [Laufer] to produce such a hymn. He succeeded
in composing the tune, but got no further. He was quite sure that he knew what
message the hymn should convey, but could not produce it. A few weeks later he
divulged his dilemma to William Hiram Foulkes, D.D., on a train bound for Stony Brook,
Long Island. Both men were on their way to a conference similar to that held at Emporia
College. When the situation had been explained to Dr. Foulkes, he evinced great
interest, and requested to see the tune. He showed great enthusiasm for the score and
begged to have it for a day or two. Perhaps, said he, the proper hymn may come to me,
if not to you. The next day he carried the manuscript in his pocket to New York City. The
hymn came to him en route. On his return that afternoon to Stony Brook, where he had
charge of vespers, he produced three stanzas of the four which constitute the hymn.
Together he and the composer of the tune went over the new production, and were so
well pleased with the result that duplicates were made and the hymn was sung for the
first time the next day at morning prayers. https://hymnary.org/hymn/CYBER/6472”