Hymn Story

O Jesus, I Have Promised

Hymn lists

by book of Bible

John Ernest Bode was an Anglican clergyman serving a small parish near Cambridge, England when his three children, a daughter and two sons, were ready for confirmation.  Bode not only presided over their confirmation, but also wrote this hymn especially for the occasion—telling the children that the hymn included “all the important truths I want you to remember.”

The hymn was originally, “O Jesus, We Have Promised”—in view of the fact that more than one child was involved in the confirmation.  Changed to “O Jesus, I Have Promised,” it serves as a fitting hymn of commitment for every Christian.  It not only reminds us of the promises that we have made to Jesus, but it also asks Jesus to protect us from the dangers and temptations posed by the world—and it reminds us that Jesus has made promises too—that Jesus promised that we will live with him in glory.

We don’t know what hymn tune Bode used in that confirmation service.  The tune with which we are familiar was written later by Arthur H. Mann, the organist at King’s College Chapel in Cambridge for fifty-three years.

— Copyright 2006, Richard Niell Donovan