March 28

Hymn Master Tennessee Ford in “I Love to Tell the Story”

†I love to tell the story,
’twill be my theme in glory,
to tell the old, old story
of Jesus and his love.


First published in 1866, it had two sections – The Story Wanted and The Story Told. The stanzas in the second section became the hymn we now know. It highlights the joy a person feels when he remembers all the wondrous things Jesus did to gain him.


Spoken in the first person, it’s a statement of faith and close intimacy with the subject in the song. The word choices and the phrasings both denote passion. Ms. Hankey must have been very passionate of the story of Jesus and his love.

The same goes for its singers. Anyone who has understood the story of Jesus and his unrelenting love would without fail sing “I Love to Tell the Story” with fervor.

The “WHYs”
Because it’s true (stanza 1)
It satisfies our longings. (stanza 2)
For the sake of those who haven’t heard the message of salvation. (stanza 3)
The “hunger” and “thirst” of those who already knew Jesus have not been filled. They never tire of hearing the story of Jesus. (stanza 4)

Mr. Ford in “I Love to Tell the Story”

Hymn Master Tennessee Ford in “I Love to Tell the Story” 1


Arabella Katherine Hankey (1834-1911)

She grew up in a well-off family. Their religious affiliation was with the Anglicans. Reportedly, she was part of the “Clasham Sect” which carried the anti-slavery ideals of William Wilberforce. The sect was later dissolved.

Growing up, she taught Sunday school classes. Soon, she moved to South Africa and served as a nurse to her invalid brother. She never married, but spent her years in religious activities.

The conception of the song materialized when at the age of 30, she went ill. While recovering, she wrote a poem describing the life of Jesus. She later wrote her own melody for the text, but it did not stick.

Another musician, William G. Fisher composed a different setting for Hankey’s poem. In 1875, Fisher’s version was included in the Gospel Hymns and Sacred Songs. From that era, the fame of the song spread.

Thank you for your continual support. Help us build more appreciations for these treasured tunes by sharing them with your family and peers.
e-mail: [email protected]


hymn, story of jesus, tennnessee ernie ford

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