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Pop A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z Psalter

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Tell Me the Old, Old Story
I John 4:10
EVANGEL  |  Hymn History  |  Bible Passage
Author: A. Catherine Hankey, 1834-1911
Musician: William H. Doane, 1832-1915

  Play MP3 • Click to listen to the music for this hymn.

Tell me the old, old story Of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory, Of Jesus and His love.
Tell me the story simply, As to a little child,
For I am weak and weary, And helpless and defiled.

Tell me the old, old story,
Tell me the old, old story,
Tell me the old, old story
Of Jesus and His love.

Tell me the story slowly, That I may take it in—
That wonderful redemption, God's remedy for sin.
Tell me the story often, For I forget so soon;
The early dew of morning Has passed away at noon.

Tell me the story softly, With earnest tones and grave;
Remember, I'm the sinner Whom Jesus came to save.
Tell me the story always, If you would really be,
In any time of trouble, A comforter to me.

Tell me the same old story When you have cause to fear
That this world's empty glory Is costing me too dear.
Yes, and when that world's glory Is dawning on my soul,
Tell me the old, old story— "Christ Jesus makes thee whole."


William Ewart Gladstone, one time Prime Minister of England, was lecturing on the subject of 'Science, Industry and Art.'

During his speech he said, 'I do not mention any of these things as the great remedy for relieving the sorrow of human life and combating the evils which defile the world. If I am asked what is the remedy for such things, I must point to something which, in a well known hymn, is called "The Old, Old Story," told of in an old, old book, and taught with an old, old teaching, which is the greatest gift ever given to mankind.' A tremendous tribute, from a great statesman, to the lady who penned the words of this hymn.

Katherine Arabella Hankey was the daughter of a prosperous banker. She belonged to a group who sought to apply the ethics of Christ to personal, social, political and national affairs, and, like her father, showed great interest in people who were less fortunate than herself, she devoted much time to Bible teaching, especially among the factory girls of that day, and her efforts were rewarded in that many of her students became leaders in Christian work.

In 1866 Katherine, or Kate as she was better known, suffered a serious illness which required a lengthy convalescence. As she lay thinking of the story of redemption, she longed for someone to come in and tell her the old, old story. As a result she wrote a two-part, 50 verse poem on the life and work of our Lord. Part One was called "The Story Wanted" and contained the words of this hymn "Tell Me The Old, Old Story." Part Two entitled "The Story Told" included a companion song, "I Love To Tell The Story."

Written especially for children, "The Old, Old Story" has been translated into more languages than almost any other children's hymn. The blessing of it has gone far beyond those for whom it was intended, for people of all ages and all in all circumstances have known its touch. It seems clear then, that Katherine Hankey's intention was more than fulfilled.

Speaking of the purpose behind the hymn she said 'God's remedy for sin is something I want to understand, and I want to hear it often, lest I forget it. As weak as I am, I cannot think too well or too fast. I need to have the story explained to me as a little child.'

"Tell Me The Old, Old Story" has a beautiful, gently flowing, and easily remembered tune. It was composed by Dr. William Howard Doane, whose interests included cotton manufacturing, woodworking, and the invention of much of the machinery used in those businesses.

Of the melody he composed to accompany these words he said, 'I was attending the international Convention of the Young Men's Christian Association. Among those present was Major-General Russell, then in command of the English forces during the Irish home rule excitement. When the General rose to speak, he did not discuss the Irish situation, as we had expected. Simply and very softly he said, 'I merely want to read a very beautiful poem which should be the dominant theme undergirding everything we do here.' Then he read the words of Miss Hankey's hymn. At the end of the poem, General Russell was too emotional to speak.'

Dr. Doane continued 'So impressed was I with the words that I requested a copy. Later, when travelling between the Glen Falls House and Crawford House in the White Mountains, I composed a tune for the words and added a simple little chorus. That evening, in the hotel parlours, we sang, "Tell me the old, old story," to my new tune.

Tell me the old, old story
Of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory,
Of Jesus and His love,
Tell me the story simply,
As to a little child;
For I am weak and weary,
And helpless and defiled.
Tell me the old, old story,
Tell me the old, old story,
Tell me the old, old story,
Of Jesus and His love.


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