Often played in funerals and Lent, “Give Me Jesus” speaks about the richness of intimately knowing Jesus. That knowledge makes the world’s luxuries pale in comparison to the pleasure of experiencing his presence. Hence, we bring this beautiful piece through Christian and Country singer, Vince Gill’s meditative cover to light again.
Christian singer Fernando Ortega also did one for Ruth Graham’s funeral, wife of the late Billy Graham, and we equally love his rendition!
Origin and Development
Various hymnodies suggest that the hymn goes back to the time of Afro-American slaves in the mid-1800s. The original author is still unknown, but the credit goes to Edward H. Boatner for the first published arrangement.
For the hymn’s presentation, it’s usually accompanied by piano and organ. Come 2000; people adopted the use of guitar and special arrangements are now being made available for choral groups.
Commercially, “Give Me Jesus” has three verses plus the refrain. But for old published works, the said hymn was given additional verses depending on the context. Examples are “The Negro and His Songs” by HW Odum & GB Johnson (1925) depicting it as a freedom song. The “Honey in the Rock” (1991) by Olivia and Jack Solomon noting it as an end of a day’s work song. At most, “Give me Jesus” can have eight verses not including the refrain.
Besides its inclusion in African American Spiritual collection, “Give Me Jesus” also appears on hymn books among Baptists, Moravians, Methodists, and Seventh Day Adventist circles. Its common usages were for personal devotions and as an invitation song at the close of a sermon.