LORD, I WANT TO BE A CHRISTIAN                                                    written in 1754

 The Story

It isn’t ever easy to track down the origins of most spirituals, but this song seems to have originated in Virginia… sometime in the early 1750s.

Samuel Davies was born in 1723, and was licensed to preach as a Presbyterian minister in 1746… ordained in 1747. He was appointed to a mission in Hanover County, Virginia. But, after only a month, he returned home to New York, suffering the symptoms of tuberculosis. Later that same year, in 1747, his wife died from a miscarriage while attempting to give birth to their first child. Davies threw himself into preaching, sure he, too, was about to die. His health would return, but Davies never lost his death-haunted sense of urgency.

He moved back to Virginia in 1748, as a settled minister. He remarried in 1748 and they had 6 children together. He was very well-educated, and his in-laws were in the printing business. So, he published some of his sermons… and was also one of the first colonial Americans to compose hymns.

He was successful for several years; known as a fiery preacher who converted many to Christ… until he died of consumption in his New Jersey home in 1761.

But, it was while preaching in Virginia that a slave approached him and said he wanted to know more about how to become a Christian. He also wanted to learn more about Jesus Christ and how to live for Him.

It was soon after that this song appeared, probably written by slaves exposed to Davies’ preaching – inspired by Davies… and became popular among African Americans in the south. Since the middle of the 1900s, it has been used in churches of all denominations.

The Song

Read the words to this hymn, and – if you haven’t already – make this prayer your prayer of salvation…

Lord, I want to be a Christian in my heart, in my heart.
Lord, I want to be a Christian in my heart, in my heart.
In my heart, in my heart, Lord, I want to be a Christian in my heart, in my heart.

Lord, I want to be more loving in my heart, in my heart.
Lord, I want to be more loving in my heart, in my heart.
In my heart, in my heart, Lord, I want to be more loving in my heart, in my heart.

Lord, I want to be more holy in my heart, in my heart.
Lord, I want to be more holy in my heart, in my heart.
In my heart, in my heart, Lord, I want to be more holy in my heart, in my heart.

Lord, I want to be like Jesus in my heart, in my heart.
Lord, I want to be like Jesus in my heart, in my heart.
In my heart, in my heart, Lord, I want to be like Jesus in my heart, in my heart.

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