From the pen of Dr. Sam Jones
Spring is officially here and the beginning of Spring Break is only a few days away. I hope each of you is planning an enjoyable time with family, relatives and friends. For those going on a campaign, it’s our prayers for your efforts to be productive and for God to grant you His traveling grace.
For the month of March, the devotional Spiritual Moments have given attention to the story behind the birth of selected spiritual hymns and songs. Hopefully, the various stories have been enlightening and comforting for you. Today’s hymn for examination is “Victory in Jesus.” This hymn is more contemporary than many of the hymns we have examined, except “Mansion, Robe, and Crown.” “Victory in Jesus” was written in 1939 by Eugene Monroe Bartlett, Sr. This hymn, for me, has been a hymn of hope; it conveys, regardless of what we experience or have to go through, the end result has already been predetermined for those who obey and remain faithful to the gospel of Christ. This is a hymn that makes me want to shout, “Hallelujah” or “thank you God.”
Bartlett was born in 1885 in Missouri. He was a successful business man who decided to invest his money into establishing the Hartford Music Company and Music Institute. He felt his mission in life was to do two things: (1) to write hymns, and (2) to teach singers to sight read. So, after completing Hall-Moody Institute in Martin, Tennessee this is what he did. Bartlett was also supportive of other writers and singers by giving them their first opportunity to write spiritual hymns. One such writer was Albert Brumley who wrote “I’ll Fly Away.” Over a career that spanned 56 years, Bartlett composed more than 600 hymns. He wrote such hymns as “Everybody Will Be Happy Over There,” and “Just a Little While to Stay Here.” Perhaps his most popular and widely known hymn is “Victory in Jesus.”
The story behind the birth of this hymn is that in the mid-1930s, Bartlett experienced a major stroke. This stroke left him bedridden. Unable to travel, he spent a great deal of time reading and studying his Bible. Bartlett compared the Christian life to a battlefield, and he felt his time on the battlefield was coming to an end. But he was not worried because of what Jesus had done for him and others. He could approach death with the expectation of victory over sin and death because of Jesus. Within two years of writing this hymn, Bartlett died. Thanks for the gift of this beautiful and comforting hymn. The first stanza and chorus are given below.
I heard an old, old story, how a Savior came from glory,
How He gave His life on Calvary, to save a wretch like me;
I heard about His groaning, of His precious blood’s atoning,
Then I repented of my sins and won the victory.
Oh victory in Jesus, my Savior, forever!
He sought me and bought me with His redeeming blood;
He loved me ere I knew Him, and all my love is due Him –
He plunged me to victory beneath the cleaning flood.