Sunday, April 24, 2016

Hymns & Hymn Writers: Jesus Is All The World To Me by David R. Kenney

The words and music for this song are both by Will L. Thompson, and the name of the tune is called ELIZABETH.
Will Lamartine Thompson (1847-1909), Lyricist & Music
Will Lamartine Thompson was born November 7, 1847 in Smiths Ferry, PA, but some sources inaccurately report East Liverpool, Ohio.  The family moved to East Liverpool soon after he was born, and the town became as his birthplace to some.  His father, Josiah Thompson, served two terms in the Ohio House of Representatives.  Josiah Thompson was a successful merchant and banker.  The family was very wealthy and was among the largest real estate owners in the area.  Will’s mother’s name was Sarah Jackman Thompson and she dedicated herself to many charitable type works in the community.  There were seven children in the family, with Will being the youngest.  Thompson was very well educated in music, having studied at the Boston Conservatory of Music and even studying in Leipzig, Germany.  He was a popular pianist and played for various local concerts.  He also had a degree in business from Mount Union College.  He had two published musical works when he was but 16 years of age.  He wrote hundreds of various types of music besides gospel music.
Thompson wrote at least ten hymns including: “Lead Me Gently Home Father,” “Softly and Tenderly,” and “There’s A Great Day Coming.”  Some sources suggest he was a member of the Church of Christ; however, there is great uncertainty on this point.  One report states that his father was affiliated with the Disciples of Christ, so there was a connection to the Restoration Movement at one point.  However, local historical accounts state that Will L. Thompson had joined the Presbyterian Church in a work that was published about four years before his death.  There are records of him donating a large piece of land to not only for Thompson Park but also to the Emmanuel Presbyterian Church.  When his work was rejected by music publishing houses, he established the highly successful Will L. Thompson & Company which had offices in East Liverpool and Chicago.  He sold religious music, pianos, and other various items.  “Jesus Is All The World To Me” was published in a collection of his hymns, New Century Hymnal, in 1904.  Thompson commented on his ability to compose music:  “No matter where I am, at home or hotel, at the store or traveling, if an idea or theme comes to me that I deem worthy of a song, I jot it down in verse. In this way I never lose it."  When asked how he came up with the tune, he stated it just naturally came to him with the words.
Thompson married Elizabeth Johnson of Wellsville, Ohio. They had a son, William Leland Thompson.  He founded the East Liverpool Historical Society.  William Lamartine Thompson died on September 20, 1909 in New York City after returning prematurely from a trip to Europe during which he became ill.  He was buried in Riverview Cemetery, East Liverpool, Ohio.
Jesus Is All The World To Me
Life without Jesus is a life that is truly lost.  Some do not know they are lost until the facts come to their realization.  Sometimes it takes a person a little while to realize they are lost on a road trip.  They were actually lost for some time, they just did not realize it yet.  To choose to accept or reject Jesus is a very serious decision that has positive and negative consequences.  Those who have grown up in a Christian home may not be able to relate as well to the decisions and magnitude of consequences that someone who is the first person in the family to decide to follow Christ.  We read in our newspapers and the Internet about families being torn apart because one of their family members became a Christian.  We have read stories of these family members being persecuted, punished or even killed because they decided to follow the teachings of the New Testament.  While we may not face these kinds of pressures here in the United States today, it would be a mistake to take our freedoms for granted.  We should thank God every day for the freedoms we have in this nation; especially religious freedoms.
Jesus taught that choosing to follow Him was not a decision without consequences, yes, negative consequences.  He taught, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.  For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’  He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.  And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.  He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 10:34-39, NKJV.)  Some when reading through this list may have lost interest with the possibility of disruption to the family.  Some may be repulsed at the insistence that Jesus has that we must love Him more than dear old dad or our loving mothers.  They might reject having to take up a cross, a symbol of suffering and shame, for others to ridicule, mock, and even persecute them. 
We need to remember what Jesus said at the very end of this teaching—“He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my Sake will find it.  We need to teach others and remind ourselves that this life here on earth is temporary.  We all will be someplace else for eternity, and no one but Jesus can help us get to where we truly want to be.  When you keep this fact straight in your mind, you will find the words:  “I trust Him now, I’ll trust Him when Life’s fleeting days shall end.  Beautiful life with such a Friend, Beautiful life that has no end; Eternal life, eternal joy, He’s my Friend.”  Only Jesus is your friend who is able to save you when your days on this earth come to an end!  No one else, not your father, mother, brothers, sisters or friends, can save your soul.  Only Jesus is able to be that kind of friend!
George C. Finely, Editor, Our Garden of Song – A Biography of Song Writers of the Church of Christ and Articles and Other Items of Interest of Our Worship in Song, West Monroe, LA:  Howard Publishing Company, 1980.
Ohio History, Volume 14, Columbus, OH:  Ohio Historical Society, 1905.
Robert Guy McCutchan, Our Hymnody, Nashville, TN:  Abingdon Press, 1937, p. 239.
V. E. Howard, Editor, and Broadus E. Smith, Associate Editor, Church Gospel Songs & Hymns, Texarkana, TX:  Central Printers & Publishers, 1983.
William B. McCord, Editor, History of Columbiana County, Ohio and Representative Citizens, Salem, OH:  Biographical Publishing Company, 1905.

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