True Stories Behind The Hymn Jesus Lover Of My Soul



   True Stories Behind The Hymn

"Jesus Lover of My Soul"


The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and He knoweth them that trust in Him. ~ Nahum 1:7


The hymn "Jesus Lover Of My Soul" was written by Charles Wesley, an English hymn writer, poet, and preacher who lived from 1707 to 1788.

One of the greatest hymn writers of the Christian tradition, Charles Wesley penned over 6ooo hymns.

 "Jesus Lover of My Soul" is treasured as his finest hymn and has been translated into almost every known language.

Though it was first published in 1740, it was not until after Charles had died that his beautiful hymn became well known and loved.

Many stories abound regarding the inspiration for the hymn.

According to one story, in the late fall of 1736 on his way back from a brief sojourn in the United States, the ship on which Charles was sailing home to England was caught in a terrible storm.

He and the rest of the passengers must have endured a horrible trial of sheer terror and uncertainty.

Author Kenneth Osbeck writes, "But finally on December 3 the ship reached land.

Wesley wrote in his journal for that date " I knelt down and blessed the Hand that had conducted me through inextricable mazes."

Some writers state that during the storm experience a frightened bird flew into Wesley's cabin and sheltered itself in his bosom for comfort and safety.

"Jesus, lover of my soul,

Let me to Thy bosom fly,

While the nearer waters roll,

While the tempest still is high!"

There are others who believe that the song is a picture of Charles's spiritual journey as a young man in his struggle to find peace with God before his conversion at Aldersgate in 1738.

The dramatic storm imagery in the hymn clearly recalls the terrible upheaval Charles had faced during his nightmare voyage across the Atlantic when, had the Lord not intervened, he might have perished.

His vivid metaphors of storm and tempest may also well describe his spiritual crisis before gave his life to Christ and was given everlasting peace by the One who calms the sea and commands the wind and waves.

It is easy to see how both stories about the hymn's creation could be true.


After Charles died his beautiful hymn was reprinted in many hymnals and sung by countless Christians in hundreds of churches.

A wonderful blog reprints the following interesting stories surrounding the hymn "Jesus Lover of My Soul" that took place during the Civil War Era from "A Treasury of Hymns" by author Amos R. Wells:


"Just before the battle of Chickamauga a drummer-boy dreamed that he had gone home and was greeted by his dear mother and sister.

He awoke very sad, because both mother and sister were dead, and he had no home. He told the little story to the chaplain before he went into the battle.

He was left on the field with the dead and dying, and in the quiet of the night his voice was heard singing "Jesus, Lover of my soul." No one dared go to him. When he reached the lines,

"Leave, ah! leave me not alone,

Still support and comfort me,"

his voice grew silent; and the next day his body was found leaning against a stump, beside his drum. He had indeed gone home to his mother and sister."



 "Another beautiful story is told of this hymn in connection with the Civil War.

In a company of old soldiers, from the Union and Confederate armies, a former Confederate was telling how he had been detailed one night to shoot a certain exposed sentry of the opposing army.

He had crept near and was about to fire with deadly aim when the sentry began to sing, "Jesus, Lover of my soul."

He came to the words,

"Cover my defenseless head

With the shadow of Thy wing."



The hidden Confederate lowered his gun and stole away.

"I can't kill that man," said he, "though he were ten times my enemy."

In the company was an old Union soldier who asked quickly,


"Was that in the Atlanta campaign of '64?


Then I was the Union sentry!"

And he went on to tell how, on that night, knowing the danger of his post, he had been greatly depressed, and, to keep up his courage, had begun to hum that hymn.

By the time he had finished, he was entirely calm and fearless.

Through the song God had spoken to two souls."*


As I researched the Hymn "Jesus Lover of My Soul"  I was amazed at how it was born out of the furnace of affliction.

It truly astounded me how God had used this one hymn in so many ways to bless countless people over the centuries. 

God had even used it to save people's lives.

Charles Wesley never knew during his lifetime the impact that just one of the  6000 hymns he'd penned would have on the lives of so many people throughout so many generations.

The man passionately loved God and was obedient and faithful to Him.

His life echoes Jesus' words in John 15:5 "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit..."

Like Wesley, we may never know this side of eternity the impact of any of the seeds God gives us to sow for Him in Christ's Vineyard.


Wesley's life also teaches us that we must still be faithful to do whatever work we have been given to accomplish by God despite negative reactions to us, our ministry, or the seeds God gives us to sow.

One account of the inspiration for "Jesus Lover of My Soul" says that Wesley wrote the text while lying under a hedge, having been beaten up by an angry mob opposing  his ministry.

His own brother John Wesley, the famous evangelist, when Charles showed him the text of "Jesus Lover of My Soul" for approval, rejected it as being "too sentimental."

Isn't it wonderful that Charles did not give in to rejection.

Had Charles not cared more about God's approval than the approval of people, even his own family, we might not have this beautiful hymn today, or the wonderful stories about the brave soldiers whose lives the hymn so wondrously impacted.




Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for giving us hymns to sing that comfort us in all our trials, that give us joy, that lead our hearts closer to You, that even give us peace in our last moments of life on this earth. Such gifts are truly eternal gifts from Thy heart and will sing in our hearts for eternity.

Thank You, Lord, we love You, in Jesus' name, amen.

James 1:17 "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."



The Hymn "Jesus Lover of My Soul" ~By Charles Wesley

"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 Saviour, hide,

  Till the storm of life be past;

Safe into the haven guide,

  Oh, 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!"



*Quoted Material from 101 Hymn Stories by Kenneth W. Osbeck, © 1982  All Rights Reserved.

**Quoted material reprinted from from A Treasury of Hymns ... by Amos R. Wells. Boston: United Society of Christian Endeavor, ©1914 All Rights Reserved./ Lyrics for "Jesus Lover of My Soul" reprinted from Timeless Truths Free Online Library/ Public Domain/ Photo of Charles Wesley courtesy of Wikipedia

Scripture Verse King James Version Bible

Jesus Lover of My Soul Video & Vocals by Suzanne Davis Harden © 2016

Featuring art by many great artists including Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Manet, 19th century artist Carl Bloch, among others as well as some contemporary works. (All art via Pinterest.)

Art Images: Sanford Robinson Gifford-Fort Federal Hill at Sunset 1862

Drummer Boy: Photo via Google Search/ Charles Wesley Image via Wikipedia/Winslow Homer-Sharpshooter 1863

Peaceful Prayer Songs Messages of Hope © 2016 Suzanne Davis Harden All Rights Reserved.




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