The above recording is an a cappella performance of the African American spiritual “Give Me Jesus” given by the Apex High School chorus in 2009. The soloists are Madison Nees, Bethany McGehee, and Emily Gardenhire.
This is one of my favorite Jesus songs of all time. The sentiment is pure, the notes and lyrics simple. It’s stripped of all the noise and flair that spoil a lot of other contemporary worship music, in my opinion. The prayer shows a certain yearning and assertiveness: don’t give me accolades or worldly security or success; don’t give me pleasures that satisfy only temporarily; give me you. Actually, the song is more a confession than a prayer, a confession before those who insist on clinging to what is temporal: “You can have all this world, but give me Jesus.” (Do what you will, but as for me, I’m sticking with Jesus!)
C. S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity that Jesus is “the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other.” I’ve noticed in my life that when I start to feed on other things (for me, those things are most often people, projects, my education, or the need to achieve), I become discontented and frustrated, and very weak, spiritually. It’s like I put cabbage juice in my car engine and then expect it to run properly, even though it’s not hardwired to do so. The world is full of so many lethargic, broken-down spirits because so many people are filling their tanks with the wrong kind of fuel. Jesus told us again and again to empty ourselves of all the dirt and grime of this world and to let him fill us up with what is good and pure and vital. In my own spiritual walk, whenever I lose my focus on Christ, I like to come back to this song and make it my plea.