Hymn Story: Jesus, Lover of My Soul

Civil War Drummer Boy
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Written by Charles Wesley in 1740, “Jesus, Lover of My Soul” has long been one of America’s Favorite Hymns. It is considered by many to be one of Wesley’s best, and its lyrics speak to the security and refuge that we find in Jesus.

Even in the midst of tempests and storms, He is our safe haven. In Him we find all that we need: “Thou, O Christ, art all I want, more than all in Thee I find.”

Read about a Civil War drummer boy who found comfort in this hymn in the midst of battle 1

In the Civil War of the [18]60’s many drummer boys had left school to join the army. One of them, named Tom, was called “the young deacon,” as he was a great favorite and was respected by the soldiers for his religious life.

Both his widowed mother and his sister were dead, so he had gone to war. One day he told the chaplain he had had a dream the night before.

In his sleep he was greeted home again by his mother and little sister. “How glad they were!” he said. “My mother pressed me to her heart. I didn’t seem to remember they were dead. O, sir, it was just as real as you are real now!” “Thank God, Tom,” replied the chaplain, “That you have such a mother, not really dead but in heaven, and that you are hoping through Christ to meet her again.”

The following day, in frightful battle both armies swept over the same ground four times, and at night between the two armies lay many dead and wounded that neither dared approach. Tom was missing; but when the battle roar was over they recognized his voice singing, softly and beautifully, “Jesus Lover of My Soul.”

When he had sung,

“Leave, ah! leave me not alone,
Still support and comfort me,”

the voice stopped and there was silence. In the morning the soldiers found Tom sitting on the ground and leaning against a stump–dead. But they knew that his “helpless soul” had found refuge with Jesus, the Lover of the soul.

The lyrics to Jesus, Lover of My Soul:

Jesus, lover of my soul, let me to Thy bosom fly,
While the nearer waters roll, while the tempest still is high.
Hide me, O my Savior, hide, till the storm of life is past;
Safe into the haven guide; O receive my soul at last.

Other refuge have I none, hangs my helpless soul on Thee;
Leave, ah! leave me not alone, still support and comfort me.
All my trust on Thee is stayed, all my help from Thee I bring;
Cover my defenseless head with the shadow of Thy wing.

Wilt Thou not regard my call? Wilt Thou not accept my prayer?
Lo! I sink, I faint, I fall—Lo! on Thee I cast my care;
Reach me out Thy gracious hand! While I of Thy strength receive,
Hoping against hope I stand, dying, and behold, I live.

Thou, O Christ, art all I want, more than all in Thee I find;
Raise the fallen, cheer the faint, heal the sick, and lead the blind.
Just and holy is Thy Name, I am all unrighteousness;
False and full of sin I am; Thou art full of truth and grace.

Plenteous grace with Thee is found, grace to cover all my sin;
Let the healing streams abound; make and keep me pure within.
Thou of life the fountain art, freely let me take of Thee;
Spring Thou up within my heart; rise to all eternity.

Listen to Jesus, Lover of My Soul sung by Fernando Ortega.


1 Hymn Story taken from One Hundred and One Hymn Stories by Carl F. Price; Hymn 31, page 37.

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Clayton Kraby
Written by Clayton Kraby
I'm a Pastor in North Dakota and created ReasonableTheology.org to help make theology accessible for the everyday Christian. You can find me on Twitter @ClayKraby.