Tell me the old, old story

1
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.
2
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.
3
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.
4
Tell me the same old story,
  When you have cause to fear
That this world’s empty glory
  Is costing me too dear;
And when the Lord’s bright glory
  Is dawning on my soul,
Tell me the old, old story:
  “Christ Jesus makes thee whole.”
8
Steve Miller

Detroit, Michigan, United States

Arabella Katherine Hankey was born in Clapham, London. Miss Hankey, usually known as Kate, was the daughter of a London banker. Her father was a member of what was commonly referred to as the Clapham Set or Sect, a club or society of evangelical business men and a few members of Parliament, who met periodically for prayer and consultation of God's Word. This prayer room in Clapham was the power house for many of the social and political reforms of the day. Z. Taylor and William Wilberforce went from this prayer room to break down opposition in Parliament to the abolition of slavery in the British Empire. Lord Shaftesbury drew spiritual strength and support in these meetings to push ahead with many reforms in industry and in the social life of the nation 150 years ago.

A devout and praying atmosphere in her home no doubt had a great influence on the life of Miss Hankey. She was converted at a very early age. While recovering from a serious illness in 1866, she wrote the hymn, "Tell Me the Old, Old Story" on January 29th. The hymn was part of a narrative poem of over 50 verses in 2 parts: The first part entitled, "The Story Wanted" and the 2nd part, "The Story Told". This hymn is taken from the first part of the poem. The original verses consisted of 4 lines and Miss Hankey preferred that they remain that way. But as the hymn is sung today, it consists of 3 stanzas of 8 lines with a chorus added.

In the summer of 1867, there was an international convention of the Y.M.C.A. in Montreal, Canada. Dr. William Howard Doane, a business man from Chicago, whose hobby was music and whose faith was in Christ, attended this convention, as did General Russell, an English delegate to the convention. The General had with him a copy of Miss Hankey's poem, which he read with tears streaming down his face, for General Russell had been wonderfully saved from sin some time before this convention. Dr. Doane describes the occasion: "Major General Russell rose in the meeting and recited the words of this song from a sheet of foolscap paper (8.5 x 13.5 inches) - tears streaming down his bronzed cheeks as he read. I wrote the music for the song on a hot summer afternoon soon after, while riding in a stage coach between the Glen Falls house and the Crawford house in the White Mountains (New Hampshire). That evening we sang it in the parlor of the hotel. We thought it pretty although we hardly anticipated the popularity that was subsequently accorded it."

Dr. Doane joined two 4-line verses together to make one stanza and it was he who added the chorus that is now sung to the hymn. Miss Hankey did not approve of this arrangement; but when she saw how the hymn was used of God to bring souls to Christ, she did not wish to hinder its usage.

The story is told of a dear old saint who was dying in Ireland, and a young minister who came in to be at his bedside. The old saint enjoyed conversation, but the younger man confessed his embarrassment in not knowing how to keep up the conversation. The dying man consoled his visitor by saying, "Just tell me the old, old story. Just the old, old story, nothing more." It is said that when this incident was related to Miss Hankey, it inspired her to write her famous hymn. However, Miss Hankey does not mention the incident in her account of how she wrote the hymn.

It is claimed that "Tell Me the Old, Old Story" has been translated into more languages than any other children's hymn.

It no doubt owes part of its popularity to the fact that Sankey included it in his 'Sacred Songs and Solos'.

Sankey tells of a young stockbroker who because of gambling and drunkenness was driven to suicide. While he was contemplating this horrible act, he heard a vast audience singing:

Tell me the story softly,

With earnest tones and grave;

Remember! I'm a sinner

Whom Jesus came to save.

The words and music of this verse broke the wretched man down completely. He fell on his knees and sobbing bitterly cried to God for mercy, and God who sent His only Son into the world to save sinners forgave and wonderfully transformed the life of this young man. - More Living Hymn Stories by Wilbur Konkel

I wrote the first part toward the end of January 1866. I was unwell at the time, just recovering from a severe illness, and the first stanza really indicates my state of health, for I was literally "weak and weary". When I had written the first part, which consisted of eight stanzas of four lines each, I laid it aside, and it was not until the following November that I completed the whole hymn. - Kate Hankey quoted by Kathleen Blanchard in 'Stories of Wonderful Hymns'

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The 5th line of the last stanza originally says:

Yes, and when that world’s glory


Muyiwa Lawrence Adedara

Kiel, Germany

This song keeps me thinking of those mansions beyond the blue. It is the story of Jesus. Hallelujah!


Peter H

Hillsborough, County Down, United Kingdom

Great, sang it this morning at church.


Lynn

Cross Lake, Manitoba, Canada

On Sunday, January 5, 2014 two hours before her passing. My dear mother said she wanted to pray and she requested a song which she repeated four times "Tell me the old, old story" with a laugh and smile on the 4th. She went to be with the Lord that afternoon 4:50 p.m.


Scott

Oklahoma, United States

I have fond memories of my grandma singing this as she did dishes looking out the window with a smile on her face.


Renne

love it.


Sarah Anne Rolofs

Ochtrup, Munsterland. Northrhein Westfalen, Germany

I love the old story, because we sang it in sunday school, I am now 69 yrs. old, and I was going down memory lane, and thought about the old story. Wonderful!


Egil Sjaastad

Oslo, Norge, Norway

That song was sung during my childhood - in Norwegian revival circles. It goes in me to the heart!