Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend
I remember being a child and sporadically attending a small church in the hills of Southern West Virginia. It was the late 70’s, and most of the men wore sideburns. The church’s oak pews contained no padding or cushions. Daylight flooded the sanctuary during worship; the interior of the church was never dark. It was a simple time, but worship in the church was extraordinary. Men, women, and children often belted out ’Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus. The song was always engaged with passion.
Going forward a few decades, ‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus would become my song of repentance and salvation. The simple hymn’s theme is Jesus. It proclaims His name twenty-five times (counting refrains). The lyrics remind me of my trust in Christ because He cleansed me with His blood…and they prompt me to be cognizant of the flood that His mercy brings..the flood that submerges me in hope. When all else fails and nothing is left, there is always Jesus. Only He matters.
Until recently, I had no idea that tragedy produced the lyrics of the hymn. I stumbled upon the writer’s background while searching for covers of the song. Louisa Stead (1850-1917), the lyricist, created this beautiful work from her own suffering. Stead was an English missionary who devoted her life to Christ. She and her husband, along with their four-year old daughter, decided to picnic off of Long Island Sound one sunny day. During their brief sabbatical, they heard a young boy struggling for his life in the water. Mr. Stead jumped into the water in an attempt to rescue the boy, but they both drowned. Louisa Stead wrote the words for the hymn after this event. Even through her trauma, she remained faithful and pressed on by following God’s will. She tightened her grip on Christ. One hundred and thirty-nine years later, the lyrics of her only published song are still blessing people around the world.
Each of us will encounter sadness and challenges in the world. But our hope is not to be placed here, it is to be placed in our King…as Louisa Stead identified Him in her words—Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend. As I leave this world someday, may my soul be singing ‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus as Christ pulls me into eternity.
Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus
Words: Louisa Stead, 1882
Music: William Kirkpatrick, 1882
‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His word;
just to rest upon His promise,
just to know, “Thus saith the Lord.”
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er!
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
O for grace to trust Him more!
O how sweet to trust in Jesus,
just to trust His cleansing blood;
just in simple faith to plunge me
neath the healing, cleansing flood! Refrain
Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus, just from sin and self to cease;
just from Jesus simply taking
life and rest, and joy and peace. Refrain
I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee, precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;
and I know that Thou art with me,
wilt be with me to the end. Refrain