Hymn History: Revive Us Again January 19, 2022

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“Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?”  (Psalm 85:6)

We are thrilled to begin sharing several brief accounts of how some of the great hymns of our faith were written. Each synopsis has been compiled through the research of Jerry Vargo and is shared by permission. It is our hope that these stories will be a help and encouragement to your Christian walk. In the first article in this series we examine the amazing story of the well known revival hymn, “Revive Us Again.”

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“Revive Us Again” was written by Scottish physician, Dr. William MacKay. He was born in 1839 and at the age of seventeen, left his humble Scottish home to attend the University of Edinburgh to study medicine. His godly mother gave him a Bible in which she wrote his name and a verse of Scripture. Away from home, he began his studies well. But as time went by he drifted further and further from the way he had been raised. He began drinking heavily. At a particularly low point in his life, to satisfy his thirst for whiskey, MacKay even pawned the Bible his mother had given him.

Upon graduating from medical school, his first assignment was to work in a hospital emergency room. It was while working in the emergency room, Dr. MacKay became acquainted with human suffering. Occasionally, MacKay would witness the remarkable difference in the life of a person who had faith in Jesus Christ. Dr. MacKay said that it was not strange for him to see the difference in a Christian because he had been raised in a Christian home by godly parents. His own mother had led him to Christ as a young man and prayed often for her son.

Yet the older MacKay grew, the more wicked he became. He believed he was in danger of becoming a thorough infidel.

One day a young man, a mason’s helper, was brought into the emergency room. He had fallen off a very tall scaffold and was in serious condition. William was assigned to attend to the young man.  It was soon determined that because of his serious injuries, his case was hopeless. All William could do was relieve the young man’s pain as much as possible.

Dr. MacKay asked the young man, “Do you have any relatives that we can notify of your injuries?”

The young man replied, “No sir. I live alone in this world.  However, would you please notify my landlady and ask her to come visit me. I owe her some money and want to pay her.  Also when she comes, ask her to bring me my book”.

“What book?” Dr. MacKay asked.

“Oh just tell her to bring the book. She will know what book I am talking about,” the young man responded.

Dr. MacKay saw the young man several times a day while he was in the emergency room.  He noticed a calm expression on the young man’s face when he talked with him. Dr. MacKay guessed that the young man was a Christian, but he did not want to talk about that with him or anyone else.

The landlady brought the young man his Bible, and the young man read it constantly. When he could not read it any longer he just laid his Bible on his chest and hugged it.

After one week the young man died. Afterwards, Dr. MacKay was called to his room by the nurses to fill out the necessary paperwork when one of the nurses asked Dr. MacKay, “What should I do with this Bible?” Dr. MacKay told the nurse that the young man had no relatives, and that she could just give him the Bible and he will dispose of it. While the nurses tended to the body of the young man, Dr. Mackay opened up the front of the Bible and curiously looked at the first few pages. Suddenly, he slammed the Bible closed with a strange look on his face. A nurse noticed Dr. MacKay’s countenance and asked, “Are you alright?”

Dr. MacKay answered, “Yes, I am going to my office if you need me you can call me there.”

When Dr. MacKay arrived at his office he shut the door, sat at his desk, and opened the Bible once again. There it was – his mother’s handwriting. The Bible was inscribed by his mother and was the very Bible that Dr. MacKay’s mother had given him as he left home for medical school. The young man must have bought the Bible from the pawn shop where Dr. MacKay pawned it for drinking money. All the pages were well worn and some pages were loose. Many verses had been underlined.

Dr. MacKay thought about how this Bible brought comfort to this dying young man. It was the book that enabled him to die in peace and happiness.

With a sense of shame, Dr. MacKay began to read some of the Bible verses that were underlined. He recounts, “Many verses I had heard in my younger years came back to me. The voice in my conscience could not be silenced any longer. With tears in my eyes, I prayed for God to forgive me and restore to me the joy of my salvation”.

It was not long after Dr. MacKay’s Bible was miraculously returned to him that he wrote the words for the hymn “Revive Us Again.”

We clearly see that he was thinking about this incident as he penned the words, “may each soul be rekindled with fire from above”.

It was the return of his Bible that brought revival to his heart. He quit the medical profession, entered theological college and became a pastor of a church in Scotland. He wrote 17 other hymns, but this is the only one still in use today.

1. We praise thee, O God, for the Son of thy love,
For Jesus who died and is now gone above.

Hallelujah, thine the glory!
Hallelujah, Amen!
Hallelujah, thine the glory!
Revive us again.

2. We praise thee, O God, for thy Spirit of light,
Who has shown us our Savior and scattered our night.

3. All glory and praise to the Lamb that was slain,
Who has borne all our sins and has cleansed ev’ry stain.

4. Revive us again – fill each heart with thy love;
May each soul be rekindled with fire from above.

 

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30 Comments

  1. Raymond Ricard on January 19, 2022 at 9:00 AM

    What a gracious God is our God, as He goes after the lost sheep.
    May our home going be a mean to bring back a lost sheep for His glory.
    Thank you for that holy initiative and for the blessing of our souls.

    • scottpauley on January 25, 2022 at 12:33 PM

      Thank you sir. Psalm 119:176

    • Gayle Neely on February 12, 2023 at 9:45 AM

      Hallelujah Thine the Glory, revive us again!

  2. R. Paul Johnson on January 19, 2022 at 12:34 PM

    Praise the Lord and Ty4 sharing.
    A rich story behind an amazingly used hymn of need for our Country and every Christian.

    • scottpauley on January 25, 2022 at 12:34 PM

      Thank you my friend!

    • Prentiss Yeates on January 30, 2022 at 8:30 AM

      What a wonderful story. Thank you, so needed to hear this , this morning.

      • scottpauley on February 1, 2022 at 11:43 PM

        Glad it was a blessing!

        • Gavin Bwalya on October 10, 2023 at 5:25 PM

          What a beautiful testimony!

  3. Christopher Weafer on January 19, 2022 at 6:44 PM

    Amen and Amen!

    • scottpauley on January 25, 2022 at 12:34 PM

      Good to hear from you.

  4. Israelee on January 19, 2022 at 11:24 PM

    This is a great story for me and for all people gone away from God. Glory to Him.

    • scottpauley on January 25, 2022 at 12:33 PM

      Thank you for reading it. God bless.

    • Wanda Douglas on October 10, 2022 at 11:21 PM

      Love to read these wonderful stories!

      • scottpauley on October 27, 2022 at 8:21 AM

        Appreciate you reading them!

    • Jim Lowe on August 31, 2023 at 4:49 PM

      I was raised in church by two wonderful Christian parents. My dad a pastor and musician filled our church with inspiring hymns and spiritual songs. I am blessed due to holy song. Thank you for the history, it touched my heart.

  5. Honey Bless Israelee Trinidad Eslabon on January 21, 2022 at 12:49 AM

    TO GOD BE THE GLORY. The GOD who can never be wrong is a GOD of 2nd chances. Come home!

  6. NATHAN POFF on January 21, 2022 at 7:52 AM

    WOW! He came to seek and to save. Hallelujah!

    • scottpauley on January 25, 2022 at 12:32 PM

      Amen.

  7. Brianne Fairchild on January 23, 2022 at 7:21 PM

    This is such a powerful, inspirational hymn story! We shared it through tears with our Sunday School class today. Thankful God can revive us!

    • scottpauley on January 25, 2022 at 12:32 PM

      Thanks for passing it on!

  8. Ruth Rehm on February 15, 2022 at 7:11 PM

    Thank you for posting the story behind this great hymn of faith. It brought tears to my eyes just thinking about how our awesome Lord can revive the lost and seeking souls of this world.

    • scottpauley on March 4, 2022 at 11:37 AM

      He is wonderful!

  9. tremendousbill on May 22, 2022 at 1:46 PM

    America is as sick as the miner in this story—America we need revival NOW. This story and this song shows how powerful God’s word really is. Want change??? read your bible EVERY DAY. want revival??? read your bible every day.

  10. Michael Nickson on June 13, 2022 at 7:35 PM

    For our short evening devotion with a very frail brother, we sang this hymn and then looked for its origin and discovered your site. How joyed we felt when reading the story, i even choked up a little when the Doctor discovered his Mother’s handwriting. Truly our God is miraculous in the extreme.

    • scottpauley on June 18, 2022 at 9:16 PM

      I’m so glad it was a blessing. Thank you for letting us know.

  11. Samuel Lamptey on July 6, 2022 at 11:01 AM

    Thanks for releasing the story …. Very touching

    • scottpauley on July 6, 2022 at 11:50 AM

      Thank you for taking time to read it!

  12. June Patterson on October 15, 2022 at 10:04 AM

    What a wonderful story of God’s perfect timing

    • scottpauley on October 27, 2022 at 8:26 AM

      God is so great!

  13. Gail Henry on August 10, 2023 at 1:08 AM

    The Lord used the hymn writer William MacKay to bless the hearts of millions of people down through the ages of time! What a miracle in itself !
    I thank GOD for that blessing.
    Revive Us Again and Again !

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