If the text to “Take My Life” is autobiographical, then it seems [Frances Ridley Havergal] took the apostle Paul’s instruction to heart: “… I implore you by God’s mercy to offer your very selves to him: a living sacrifice…”(Romans 12:1, NEB). The words she wrote on that wintry day in 1874 form a prayer of consecration—a transaction I doubt she made lightly, and precious to God.
All six stanzas of this hymn begin with a tiny but mighty word: Take. “Take my life, and let it be/Consecrated, Lord, to Thee/Take my moments and my days/Let them flow in ceaseless praise….” In this act of surrender, her heart became the Savior’s throne. Her hands moved at the impulse, or under the influence, of His sacrificial, self-giving love. Her voice (she was a contralto soloist) sang for her King. And as for her will, her words, and her keen intellect—all that went on the altar, too.
“Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold.” There’s no empty show of piety here.
Rather, this stanza speaks of the day she wrapped up nearly 50 pieces of jewelry and gave them away to the Church Missionary Society—a deed that made her strangely happy!
Between the lines, Havergal’s classic hymn shows us a woman so alive to the glory of the risen Christ that she held nothing back. As she offered Him everything, allowing Christ to freely live and move through her ordinary life, she modeled the meaning of consecration.
In the final stanza, she seems to seal the offering, alluding to the woman who anointed the feet of Jesus with fragrant oil (Luke 7:38):
“Take my love—my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure-store
Take myself, and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.”
Pell, William J. (Ed.). (1962). Frances Ridley Havergal’s Opened Treasures. Neptune, New Jersey: Loizeaux Brothers
Literary Heritage website: http://www3.shropshire-cc.gov.uk/people/havergal.htm