Hymn: a song of praise to God. It seems simple, but have you ever read the stories behind the beloved lyrics of your favorite classic hymns?
Each month in 2022 we are sharing the story behind one of our favorite classic hymns. We hope these stories will encourage you and help you worship, just like the hymnist, amid hurt, hope, fear, thanksgiving, joy, or loss.
This month we’re sharing the story behind Lord, Speak to Me That I May Speak.
Frances Ridley Havergal wrote this hymn on April 28, 1872, at Winterdyne, England. In a letter to a friend, dated May 25, 1872, Miss Havergal noted that she had written a poem titled “A Worker’s Prayer” for Women’s Work, probably a magazine or newspaper. Under the title, and with a reference to Romans 14:7, “Lord, Speak to Me That I May Speak” was published the same year in a leaflet. Subsequently, the text appeared in Havergal’s Under the Surface (1874). The present hymnal uses stanzas 1,4,6 and 7 of the seven stanza original.
Canonbury is an adaptation of the fourth piano piece in Robert Schumann’s Opus 23, of Nachtstuecke (1839). The earliest known use of Schumann’s melody as a hymn tune was in J. Ireland Tucker’s Hymnal With Tunes, Old and New (1872).
Both text and tune entered Southern Baptist hymnody in the New Baptist Hymnal (Nashville, 1926, No. 211).
Lord, speak to me that I may speak
In living echoes of your tone.
As you have sought, so let me seek
Your erring children, lost and lone.
Oh, lead me, Lord, that I may lead
The wand’ring and the wav’ring feet.
Oh, feed me, Lord, that I may feed
Your hungry ones with manna sweet.
Oh, teach me, Lord, that I may teach
The precious truths which you impart.
And wing my words that they may reach
The hidden depths of many a heart.
Oh, fill me with your fullness, Lord,
Until my very hearts o’erflows
In kindling thought and glowing word,
Your love to tell, your praise to show.
Oh, use me, Lord, use even me,
Just as you will, and when, and where
Until your blessed face I see,
Your rest, your joy, your glory share.
This story was included in Handbook to The Baptist Hymnal.