Title: I Know That My Redeemer Lives
Tune: Duke Street
Composer: John Hatton, (c. 1710-1793)
Author: Samuel Medley, (1738-1799)
Often times, some of the best known works in the religious world come from people that did not begin their life in a religious way. Samuel Medley was a prime example of this, much like fellow poet John Newton. Born June 23rd 1738 in Chestnut, England, Medley was the son of a School teacher, but none-less, he was educated privately by his grandfather. While studying with his grandfather, Medley was taught to live faithfully by Christian values, but he was not interested in following what was being taught. As he grew up, Medley became friends with boys who were not Godly, and lead sinful lives. Eventually at the age of 14 (c. 1752), Medley was given an apprenticeship with an oil-man in London, but he only lasted 3 years in with the oil-man before he began searching for a way out. After finding a loop-hole in the law, Medley discovered that a person can leave an apprenticeship and join the military service, which lead him to join the British Royal Navy. While in the Navy, Medley’s life style did not improve, but rather became even more crass and profane than before.
In 1759, during the Seven Year’s War, Medley’s ship engaged in a naval battle with a French ship, during which Medley’s leg was severely injured. After the battle was over, Medley’s leg continued to grow worse, even to the point of potentially having to amputate the leg to save Medley’s life. One evening, the physician aboard the ship told Medley that if his leg did not improve by morning, they would have to amputate or he could face death. During the night, Medley turned back and remembered what his grandfather had taught him when he was younger, and he began to pray vigorously that his leg may be spared. The next morning, to the surprise of all on the ship, the physician examined the leg and determined that it had healed so well that amputation was no longer needed. Immediately afterwards, Medley returned to his room, found the bible his grandfather had given him, and began reading. When Medley’s ship had finally returned to England, he was sent to his grandfather’s house where he was allowed to recover. Eventually, during his recovery, Medley’s grandfather read a sermon written by Isaac Watts, which moved Medley so greatly; he immediately converted and became a Christian. After his conversion, Medley began attending the Baptist Church in Eagle Street, London. Shortly after, Medley opened a school, which he ran with great success for nearly six years, but then he found a new calling.
In 1767, Medley began preaching, and eventually he became so popular in his teachings that he was called to be Pastor at the Baptist Church in Watford, England. After five short years in Watford, Medley moved on to Byrom Street, Liverpool, where he gathered a large congregation of a 27 year period. Medley took a special interest in the souls of Seamen and Servicemen, and was so wildly popular that soon his meeting place could not sustain the number of people coming to hear him preach. After a short time, the meeting space was enlarged, but this would prove useless as the number of people coming to hear the sermons was still growing. Eventually the crowds grew so great that an entirely new building had to be constructed to allow room for everyone who wanted to hear the words of Medley. Although his career was successful, Medley fell ill and maintained his illness for quite some time. After his long fight, Medley finally passed away July 17th 1799, but many of his hymns maintain their popularity in the Baptist Church, one of the most famous of which is “I Know That My Redeemer Lives.”
The first publication of “I Know that My Redeemer Lives,” appeared in Emma Smith’s hymnal published in 1835 with only seven short verses. Eventually the text was compressed into four longer verses, but in order to make the text fit the new musical form, the last line of the verse had to be repeated (found on some occasions). The first appearance of the tune “Duke Street,” came anonymously in Henry Boyd’s 1793 publication of Select Collection of Psalm and Hymn Tunes. Eventually the tune was credited to one John Hatton, of which virtually nothing is known, other than he lived on Duke Street in St. Helen, Lancaster, England. The tune is only one of many different potential tunes that can be used with this given text, but this tune is generally found to be used in the Catholic Church.
I know that my Redeemer lives;
What comfort this sweet sentence gives!
He lives, He lives, who once was dead;
He lives, my ever living Head.
He lives to bless me with His love,
He lives to plead for me above.
He lives my hungry soul to feed,
He lives to help in time of need.
He lives triumphant from the grave,
He lives eternally to save,
He lives all glorious in the sky,
He lives exalted there on high.
He lives to grant me rich supply,
He lives to guide me with His eye,
He lives to comfort me when faint,
He lives to hear my soul’s complaint.
He lives to silence all my fears,
He lives to wipe away my tears
He lives to calm my troubled heart,
He lives all blessings to impart.
He lives, my kind, wise, heavenly Friend,
He lives and loves me to the end;
He lives, and while He lives, I’ll sing;
He lives, my Prophet, Priest, and King.
He lives and grants me daily breath;
He lives, and I shall conquer death:
He lives my mansion to prepare;
He lives to bring me safely there.
He lives, all glory to His Name!
He lives, my Jesus, still the same.
Oh, the sweet joy this sentence gives,
I know that my Redeemer lives!
My Take on the Hymn:
This hymn is one of great praise, especially coming from someone who did not know God’s love until later in life. The story of Samuel Medley serves to show that God does not leave us alone, even when we constantly tell ourselves that we do not want, nor do we believe in, God’s love. This hymn reminds us that God does live every day in us, and that he lives for us, not just so that we may sing his praise, but that we may be saved in Him. Just the other day while in church, I thought to myself, why does God get to use us, and furthermore, why does He want to use us? There isn’t really any other answer to this question other than His love for us is so strong that he wants us to be with him eternally, and the only way to do that is to live in his way. Living like Christ and like God is not an easy task, and is something that we as humans cannot do simply on our own. It takes God and His power to allow us to live a life worthy of Him.
|If you can't read the music, just follow along with the Youtube video.|
Here is the Youtube Video:
Julian, John. "Samuel Medley." - Hymnary.org. Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, n.d. Web. 17 Sept. 2012. <http://www.hymnary.org/person/Medley_S>.
Graves, Dan. "Church History and Christian Timeline." Christianity.com. Christianity.com, May 2007. Web. 17 Sept. 2012. <http://www.christianity.com/ChurchHistory/11630229/>.
Chicago, Archdiocese Of. "Hymn No 445." Worship: A Hymnal and Servic Book for Roman Catholics. Third ed. Vol. Vol 1. Chicago, IL: GIA Publications, 2001. N.