‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take him at his word,
Just to rest upon his promise, just to know, thus saith the Lord.
This hymn by Louisa M.R. Stead (music by William J. Kirkpatrick), is where This Is My Story began. Several months ago, I was flipping through a hymnal, rediscovering old favorites, learning new ones. When I came across “‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus”, I was surprised to find my eyes immediately, almost involuntarily, filling with tears. As I read through it, I was struck by the realization that, even though I love the song, I don’t always believe its words are true. Sometimes it doesn’t feel sweet to take Jesus at his word. Sometimes it feels impossible to rest upon his promise. Sometimes suffering and doubt and darkness are singing so loudly that God seems silent. That realization came hard, almost as if someone had knocked the wind out of me.
Yes, ‘tis sweet to trust in Jesus, just from sin and self to cease,
Just from Jesus simply taking life and rest and joy and peace.
I sat and wondered what would it look like for me to sing this song honestly. In belief and unbelief, in the daytime and darkness. I could sing it with joy when I feel close to God, but could I sing it when I struggled to believe? I started reading about the author and discovered that she wrote this hymn after a period of profound suffering: the death of her husband, financial destitution for her and her daughter... And yet she came through that experience proclaiming God’s goodness, begging only “for grace to trust him more.” After crying all over again, I started to see the hymn almost as a prayer of hope or aspiration, a cry of my heart, a plea for God to fulfill his promises, to help me trust him more.
I’m so glad I learned to trust thee, precious Jesus, Savior, Friend,
And I know that thou art with me, wilt be with me to the end.
That context is what inspired this arrangement. The song starts in the middle of the season of suffering, the place where we need the sweetness of Christ’s love to be more real than ever. It begins in a minor key with a tick-tock pattern on the piano, as if waiting for God to hear and answer. The strings ease in after verse one, and a thread of hope is introduced in the piano line. In verse two, the string parts sound almost like voices sighing, crying out. By the time we first hear the chorus, there’s a sense almost of a marching battle between hope and darkness. The tick-tock pattern is gone by verse three and in its place is a rising octave, building into more hope and determination. The second to last chorus is where the battle culminates and ends with peace, a final chorus of simple strings and melody, where hope has settled in.
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust him, how I’ve proved him o’er and o’er.
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus, O for grace to trust him more.
To listen to the partially produced arrangement, click here. Our hope for the final arrangement is to finesse the production, add vocal harmonies, and fill in some additional string lines. Help us raise money to finish the arrangement by donating here.