Make me a captive, Lord, and then I shall be free;
Force me to render up my sword, and I shall conqueror be;
I sink in life’s alarms when by myself I stand;
Imprison me within Thine arms and strong shall be my hand.
My heart is weak and poor until it master find;
It has no spring of action sure; it varies with the wind.
It cannot freely move till Thou hast wrought its chain;
Enslave it with Thy matchless love and deathless it shall reign.
My will is not my own, till Thou hast made it Thine;
If it would reach a monarch’s throne it must its crown resign.
It only stands unbent amid the clashing strife,
When on Thy bosom it has leant and found in Thee its life.
What paradoxes are found in these old-fashioned, poetic words! George Matheson III wrote them in 1890. He said that he gained from his father a mind for business and from his mother the gift of song. In spite of low vision from childhood, George graduated from Glasgow University with a Master’s degree in 1892. During his university years he was declared blind, and only his sister’s help enabled him to complete these studies and enter the ministry.
Like Fanny Crosby, George was never totally blind, but could distinguish light from darkness. Also like Fanny Crosby, he had an amazing memory, an optimistic attitude and an inspiring personality. Many people who heard him preach in St. Bernard’s in Edinburgh didn’t even realise he was blind!
With the help of secretaries and eventually a Braille typewriter, George Matheson wrote numerous articles and books. He was one of Britain’s most popular preachers, and Queen Victoria went to hear him. As a hymnist, he is remembered for this hymn, as well as another beautiful one – O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go – which also speaks of the need to surrender to Christ. Perhaps that hymn may be written about in a later post here, and we will learn more about George Matheson’s life.
Words: George Matheson Music: George J. Elvey
Reference: Robert J. Morgan, Then Sings My Soul, Book 2
YouTube – Make Me a Captive Lord – ENJOY S.A. Song Book #508 Section: The Life of Holiness – Consecration and Service