“O Jesus, I Have Promised,” ELW 810 and LBW 503
1 O Jesus, I have promised to serve you to the end;
remain forever near me, my master and my friend.
I shall not fear the battle if you are by my side,
nor wander from the pathway if you will be my guide.
2 Oh, let me feel you near me; the world is ever near.
I see the sights that dazzle, the tempting sounds I hear
My foes are ever near me, around me and within;
but, Jesus, then draw nearer to shield my soul from sin.
3 Oh, let me hear you speaking in the accents clear and still
above the storms of passion, the murmurs of self-will.
Now speak to reassure me, to hasten or control;
now speak and make me listen, O Guardian of my soul.
4 O Jesus, you have promised to all who follow you
that where you are in glory your servant shall be too.
And Jesus, I have promised to serve you to the end;
oh, give me grace to follow, my master and my friend.
Is it right to sing a song more about our own promises to God than God’s to us? Our readings this week have indeed reminded us of that season of faith when some divine delay or the fearsome opposition of enemies (or friends!) thrusts us back upon our own commitment to God. Perhaps then our thoughts more readily turn to “what we’ve been doing for God lately.” Maybe our prayer becomes, “I’m committed. Are you?”
This hymn leads us to acknowledge there may be other factors in the mix we have forgotten to take account of: sights that dazzle, tempting sounds, storms of passion, murmurs of self-will. We ask, not least on the Lord’s Day, for our senses to be enhanced, that we be able to feel Jesus’ near us, hear him speaking, and—in a couple of original verses not included in this hymnal version—see the path he is making for us.
O let me see thy foot-marks, and in them plant mine own;
my hope to follow duly is in thy strength alone:
O guide me, call me, draw me, uphold me to the end;
and then in heaven receive me, my Saviour and my Friend. Amen.
(“O Jesus, I Have Promised,” original final verse)