This song was written by Ada Whiddington (lyrics, 1891) with melodies penned by Albert Simpson and Frances Bolton.
The Bible verse that comes to mind with this song is what John the Baptist said when his disciples protested about Jesus’ growing popularity: “He must increase, I must decrease” (John 3:30)
1. Not I, but Christ, be honored, loved, exalted,
Not I, but Christ, be seen be known be heard,
Not I, but Christ in every look and action,
Not I but Christ in every thought and word.
2. Not I, but Christ to gently soothe in sorrow
Not I, but Christ to wipe the falling tear
Not I, but Christ to lift the weary burden
Not I, but Christ to hush away all fear
3. Christ, only Christ, no idle word e’er falling
Christ, only Christ, no needless bustling sound
Christ, only Christ, no self-important bearing,
Christ, only Christ, no trace of I be found.
4. Not I, but Christ my every need supplying
Not I, but Christ my strength and health to be
Christ, only Christ, for body, soul, and spirit
Christ, only Christ here and eternally
This song is a good reminder of how we as Christians ought to live–not because we should, but because we want to. Because that is part of the new nature that Jesus puts in us when we turn our lives over to him. It’s not easy for us naturally self-centered people, but when we are in harmony with Christ, it really is Him living through us, yet paradoxically we are more ourselves than when we were pursuing selfish desires.
I was flipping through my parents’ hymn book when I came across this hymn, and as sometimes happens, as I read through the lyrics, the melody suddenly came to me–a rather cheery, chipper melody that seemed to suit the words quite well. So I wrote it down, and later recorded it. Here it is: