“Ne’er-do-well” was the term for it at the time. Thomas Lyte was lazy and irresponsible. Taken with fishing and hunting, and derelict at household, he sent his son Henry off to boarding college. The headmaster saw young Henry’s giftings, shouldered his charges, and drew him into his personal loved ones at holidays, as a type of adopted son.
Meanwhile, Henry’s personal father, reticent to claim him, signed his letters as “Uncle” rather than “Father.” And but for Henry Francis Lyte (1793–1847), the gospel of Christ redeemed what it meant to have a accurate Father, anticipate his warm smile, get in touch with him “Abba,” and extended to see him face to face.
His Loss Was Achieve
Such steadying gladness identified in Christ inspired Lyte, a all-natural-born poet, to pen lyrics we could possibly say had been “above his head” — like the lead quatrain from the climactic fourth stanza of his “Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken”:
Go, then, earthly fame and treasure.
Come disaster, scorn, and discomfort.
In Thy service, discomfort is pleasure.
With Thy favor, loss is obtain.
An conscious worshiper right now may perhaps hesitate more than such a plea. Do I genuinely imply these words? Does my soul definitely welcome disaster, scorn, and discomfort? The opening line of Lyte’s second stanza raises equivalent inquiries: “Let the globe despise and leave me.” Tender consciences may perhaps be reticent to sing along, not due to the fact the hymn is any extra radical than the words of Jesus, but precisely due to the fact the lyrics are so steeped in the get in touch with of Christ and the bracingly stark realities of the Scriptures.
Indelible Grace, the Nashville group that recovers historic lyrics via new music (and very first breathed new life into Lyte’s hymn), describes it as “singing in two minds.” Aspect of us believes and deeply desires the type of radical life the lyrics portray, when component of us knows we’re not but there. As we sing, we plead, “Help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24). Jesus, make me extra like this!
Sing Above Your Head
To “sing above our heads” is the typical invitation implicit in the Bible’s longest book. Psalm immediately after psalm leads us not only to profess what we have currently obtained, but to press on, to strain forward to grasp what lies ahead (Philippians three:12–13). Lyrics above us support us develop and stretch. They press us and extend us and shape us into what we ought to be — into what we are not but but want to be with the support of God’s grace. In worship we express each what we currently think and really feel and reside, and also what we aspire to, what we pray for. Worship types us.
“In worship we express each what we currently think and really feel and reside, and also what we aspire to.”
In distinct, “Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken” models for us how a mature Christian anticipates and appropriates suffering in this age. The hymn requires us on a journey from Jesus’s initial get in touch with, to the difficult but joyful road of the Christian life, to a taste of the blissful repose awaiting us just more than the horizon. These lines place the sweet ups and painful downs of life in this age in the context of God’s overarching story, valuable promises, and ever-present support.
Adhere to Him
The hymn starts with Jesus’s radical get in touch with to stick to him (Matthew four:19 eight:22 9:9). Jesus is not an accessory. He is a treasure worth promoting all to obtain (Matthew 13:44). Coming to him marks a clearing of the table of our lives and rebuilding all about him.
Jesus, I my cross have taken,
All to leave and stick to Thee.
Lyte requires his cues from the two principal emphases in the New Testament texts on following Jesus. The very first is leaving all to stick to Christ, the get in touch with his very first disciples answered. “They left every thing and followed him” (Luke five:11). “See, we have left every thing and followed you” (Matthew 19:27 Mark 10:28 Luke 18:28). This is a get in touch with that is pricey in the quick term but abundantly rewarding in the finish (Matthew 19:29 Mark 10:30). It is the get in touch with the wealthy, young man would not answer (Mark 10:21–22).
The second, then, is even extra daunting: taking up the cross. “Whoever does not take his cross and stick to me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:38). “If anybody would come immediately after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and stick to me” (Matthew 16:24). In the throes of rebellion against our Maker, unregenerate hearts hate the actual Jesus. They take deadly aim at him, and our following him puts us in their sights. It is only a matter of time till we’re below fire.
“As we sing, we plead, ‘Jesus, make me extra like this!’”
Following Jesus does not assure actual crucifixion, but it does demand taking up the cross, a readiness to decide on him more than life devoid of him, come what may perhaps. “If they have named the master of the home Beelzebul, how a lot extra will they malign these of his household” (Matthew 10:25). If sinners staked the Son of God to history’s most horrible instrument of torture, what could possibly they do to us if we remain faithful?
But once again the embrace of close to-term loss comes with Jesus’s wonderful guarantee of obtain. “For whoever would save his life will shed it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will locate it” (Matthew 16:25). In taking up the cross, and exposing ourselves to new dangers in this life, we are securing “that which is definitely life” (1 Timothy six:19).
Abandoned and Deceived
This mingling of loss and obtain, of actual danger and deeper delight, tends to make these lyrics so effective as worship and as formation. I am “destitute, despised, forsaken,” but Christ is “my all,” and God is “my personal.” In Christ, our heavenly situation is wealthy, even as we are struck with successive waves of earthly injury.
In such joy, the second stanza braces us for the inevitable:
Let the globe despise and leave me.
They have left my Savior, also.
Human hearts and appears deceive me.
Thou art not, like them, untrue.
We endure the deceptions of human hearts and appears by seeing the smile of Jesus. His pleasure readies us, and steadies us, for opposition from afar and (most painfully) close to:
Oh, when Thou dost smile upon me,
God of wisdom, like, and could possibly,
Foes may perhaps hate and mates disown me.
Show Thy face, and all is vibrant.
So also in stanza 3, fellow man will “trouble and distress me.” Hear the refrain of Psalm 107 (verses six, 13, 19, and 28): “they cried to the Lord in their difficulty, and he delivered them from their distress.”
As life in this age presses us with trials, we not only endure with the Spirit’s support, but in the approach we sweeten the rest to come. Not only will “the sufferings of this present time” not examine to the glory that will be revealed to us (Romans eight:18), but the trials themselves will contribute to producing our future all the far better. “This light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (two Corinthians four:17). Not only do the obstacles of this age pose no final threat to heaven’s bliss, but the obstacles go to function for our enhanced joy now. Afflictions, endured in faith, create for us a higher eternity. God’s styles in the griefs he lovingly filters into our lives are not for our harm but eternal great.
Discomfort as Pleasure, Loss as Achieve
Stanza 4 is the climactic declaration. We have reckoned with inevitable earthly losses. Now we welcome them, with the couplet that is the important line, and pretty heart, of the entire hymn:
In Thy service, discomfort is pleasure.
With Thy favor, loss is obtain.
This climactic verse then requires its rest, from these most radical declarations but, into the deepest realities of divine comfort from Romans eight: God’s sovereign and fatherly goodness (Romans eight:15, 28).
I have named Thee Abba Father.
I have stayed my heart on Thee.
Storms may perhaps howl, and clouds may perhaps collect
All should function for great to me.
Armed by Faith, Winged by Prayer
With God as each Father and Sovereign, we get pleasure from a settled peace, even as our boat continues to be battered. Stanza 5 speaks of “joy to locate in each station,” and the assurance of coming to know our “full salvation,” and “ris[ing] more than sin and worry and care.” We have been invited into a life of Trinitarian remembrance.
“Yes, we shed. But how a lot extra we obtain.”
“Think” (3 instances) of possessing the Spirit in us, the Father’s smile on us, and the Son’s death for us. The sufferings of this life, towering as they may perhaps really feel, can not hold a candle to the eternal blessedness of the Godhead that is getting shared with us, and created in us, by Christ via his Spirit. What once again is our grounds for complaint?
This ultimately offers way, in the sixth and final stanza, to basking in what lies ahead. Not only do heaven’s eternal ages lie just before us, but “God’s personal hand shall guide us there.” And it will be “soon” (two instances) that our hope is transformed into “glad fruition,” when we see him face to face.
Lyte in the Darkness
When we join Lyte and the psalmists, and sing like this above our heads, we reconsecrate our lives for the numerous assaults of this age. We prepare our souls for the rhythms of discomfort and pleasure, loss and obtain, grief and joy, in the overlap of the ages. We prepared ourselves to endure with Christ, upheld by Christ. We embrace afresh the essence of the Christian life, for now, as “sorrowful, but normally rejoicing” (two Corinthians six:10). It is a pattern the apostle Paul knew nicely:
We are afflicted in each way, but not crushed perplexed, but not driven to despair persecuted, but not forsaken struck down, but not destroyed. (two Corinthians four:8–9)
We share not only in Christ’s sufferings but also in comfort (two Corinthians 1:five). This hymn is not a disgruntled manifesto of complaint but a declaration of joy, of exquisite delights the unregenerate soul in no way tastes. Yes, we shed. But how a lot extra we obtain. We obtain heaven, all points, Christ’s personal comfort, and God himself.
I locate it encouraging to know that when a man so earnest as Lyte came to die, his final recorded words had been “Peace! Joy!”