The Hymn Collective :: "Give Me Jesus"

Give me Jesus.

Earlier this year, when we celebrated a year of faithfulness in this space, one of our readers, Rebecca, requested a series of meditations on special hymns this coming year.

Today we’re launching that occasional series, called “The Hymn Collective,” and we’re starting with one of my favorites: “Give Me Jesus.”

This version sung by Fernando Ortega.

(If you can’t see the video in your email or feed reader, click here.)

This is a very simple hymn. (In fact, can it even be called a hymn? I’m not sure.) It’s got a very simple verse structure and a very simple refrain, and they alternate a few times before the song closes without any fanfare. 

But this song … oh, this song. It gets to the ache in my heart every single time.

I sing it often around my house. Sitting at my desk in the morning, the psalms spread open before me, I sing it over and over while looking out the window at my neighborhood going about its day. Sitting on my couch some mornings, a blanket wrapped over my arms and legs, I sing it in the silence of our home.

And Diva, pretty much without fail, always comes running to hear it, too, sitting real close or even on my lap as I sing the simple lines over and again. (I swear that girl knows Jesus.)

This song gets at my heart’s love for Jesus. 

Some time ago, I remember sitting in a pew at our church for one of the Wednesday noon eucharist services. And in the silence of the sanctuary, before the service began, I could hear a simple prayer repeating again and again in my heart: “Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus.” 

Over the next few weeks and months, I noticed that same simple prayer cropping up in other moments of quiet — after I’d taken communion and kneeled at my pew in prayer, while sharing times of prayer with Kirk on a Sunday night. Thank you, Jesus. It’s become my heart’s simple, most true prayer, bubbling into my consciousness at times as though to show me my heart beats below the surface, in subconscious places, already and always humming this prayer.

Thank you, Jesus.

This hymn reminds me of that.

It’s been a long time coming, this love affair I have with Jesus. There came a point in my life, 14 years ago, when I didn’t feel any significant connection to this man who had been a part of my life before birth. He was just a figure, fundamental to my life and yet not at all. I didn’t know why he really mattered.

And then, over the course of several years, he slowly became essential.

Now I can’t live without him. Now he is air and breath to me. 

In the morning, when I rise … and when I am alone … and when I come to die … give me Jesus.