I Could Not Do Without Thee

The first time I heard this hymn was from an ensemble visiting our church, and I was riveted. I thought it was a new hymn, but looking it up after I got home, I saw it was written by Frances Ridley Havergal in1873. I like the newer melody better, but I don’t know who wrote it.

I have usually only heard it sung with these four stanzas, but cyberhymnal.org lists several more.

I could not do without Thee
O Savior of the lost,
Whose precious blood redeemed me
At such tremendous cost.
Thy righteousness, thy pardon
Thy precious blood, must be
My only hope and comfort,
My glory and my plea.

I could not do without Thee,
I cannot stand alone,
I have no strength or goodness,
No wisdom of my own;
But Thou, beloved Savior,
Art all in all to me,
And weakness will be power
If leaning hard on Thee.

I could not do without Thee,
O Jesus, Savior dear;
E’en when my eyes are holden,
I know that Thou art near.
How dreary and how lonely
This changeful life would be,
Without the sweet communion,
The secret rest with Thee!

I could not do without Thee,
For years are fleeting fast,
And soon in solemn loneness
The river must be passed;
But Thou wilt never leave me,
And though the waves roll high,
I know Thou wilt be near me,
And whisper, “It is I.”

The first time I heard it I was struck with the repetition of “lone,” “alone,” and “loneness.” I was feeling very much alone at the time because Jim was traveling a lot, and I was reminded that I am never alone with Christ, and that’s not just a trite saying but a meaningful reality. And then the second stanza has been a help to me so many times. We truly have no strength, goodness, or wisdom of our own, but because of the redemption mentioned in the first stanza, we can experience the strength in the second stanza.

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