I Must Tell Jesus

  • May 28, 2013
  • #8106

Did you know some of the greatest hymns were written by people with disabilities? Listen in as Joni tells stories about some of her favorite hymns. 

I Must Tell Jesus

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada and let me share with you a frequent prayer that I often sing…

I must tell Jesus all of my trials, I cannot bear these burdens alone;
In my distress He kindly will help me, He ever loves and cares for His own.
I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus! I cannot bear these burdens alone;
I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus! Jesus will help me, Jesus alone.

I hope you can you tell how much I love singing this hymn. When I kick my mind out of gear, (you know, just when you are just relaxing) and let my thoughts go, this is the hymn that most often surfaces out of my heart, "I Must Tell Jesus." I love to sing it flat on my back when I am in bed, looking face-up at the ceiling. You see when I'm paralyzed, I can't move at all except to look "up." I think this hymn especially speaks to me because it was written by someone with a disability. And it seems that people who were disabled, even bedridden—you know, flat on their back looking up—these are the ones who were the greatest hymn writers. Just listen to the names of all these hymns and who wrote them and what their condition was.

Do you know that old hymn, "More About Jesus"? A woman named Eliza Hewitt wrote that. She was a schoolteacher and once was struck with a heavy slate by one of her students resulting in a severe spinal cord injury. John Milton wrote, "Let Us with a Gladsome Mind." That was a beautiful hymn, but he became blind when he was in his 40s. And then that beautiful old hymn: "Abide with Me." I am sure you know that one. Henry Lyte wrote it. Did you know that he was crippled with tuberculosis and asthma virtually all of his life? Then there is William Cowper, he wrote "God Moves in Mysterious Ways", that is a great old hymn of the faith. And for Mr. Cowper, hymn writing was the best therapy. He was mentally ill and he frequently lapsed into deep, deep depressions. But it was during those times of depression that he’d write his best hymns.

"Children of the Heavenly Father", that is another good old hymn. Carolina Sandell Berg wrote it. As a young child, she had become bedridden with a mysterious paralysis. And then there is Isaac Watts. Now there is a hymn writer of the church, right!? One of the ones he wrote was "We Give Immortal Praise." But you have to know Isaac Watts was sickly all the way from his teenage years when, finally, smallpox nearly killed him. And of course, the most famous disabled hymn writer was Fanny Crosby: "All the Way My Savior Leads Me", that's one of my favorites. She was only six weeks old when she lost her sight because of a doctor's error. But this remarkable woman later on said:

"I have believed that the good Lord, in His infinite mercy, has, through my blindness, consecrated me to the work that I am permitted to do."

Isn’t that something? Yep, having a disability can really get you singing. And generations of hymn singers do, indeed, owe a great deal to these hymn writers, all of whom had disabilities.

© Joni and Friends


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