As regular readers will know, Sunday morning once again brings a new entry in my series, Then Sings My Soul: The Hymns of My Youth. This week it’s a hymn by Thomas Obadiah Chisholm, who was born in 1866 in a log cabin in Franklin, Kentucky. Without even attending high school, he began teaching school at the age of sixteen. Later on after his conversion, Chisholm was ordained as a Methodist, but had to resign his pastorate because of poor health. During his lifetime, he wrote over 1200 poems, several of which became well-known hymns; “O to be like Thee” was published in 1897.
My recollections of this hymn from my youth omits most of the verses but for a few lines. Mainly I remember the chorus — always the easiest part of a hymn to recall. Always the last time through the chorus, we would close our hymnals and slip them back into the little shelf on the pew-back in front of us, and sing the last three lines or so from memory.
O to be like Thee
O to be like Thee, blessed Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
O to be like Thee, O to be like Thee,
Blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
O to be like Thee, full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wand’ring sinner to find.
O to be like Thee, lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer, others to save.
O to be like Thee, Lord, I am coming,
Now to receive th’ anointing divine;
All that I am and have I am bringing,
Lord, from this moment all shall be Thine.
O to be like Thee, while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love,
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.