Image by Thomas Allsop
Image by Thomas Allsop

Hymn History: I Surrender All

Updated: Jul 22, 2021

The following is the story from here.:

"Judson W. Van DeVenter (1855-1939) was raised in a Christian home. At age 17, he accepted Jesus as his Savior. He graduated university with a degree in art and was employed successfully as a teacher and administrator of high school art. He traveled extensively, visiting the various art galleries throughout Europe.

Van DeVenter also studied and taught music. He mastered 13 different instruments, sang and composed music. He was very involved in the music ministry of his Methodist Episcopal church and eventually found himself torn between his successful teaching career and his desire to be a part of an evangelistic team. This struggle within himself lasted for almost five years.

In 1896, Van DeVenter was conducting the music of a church event. It was during these meetings that he finally surrendered his desires completely to God -- He made the decision to become a full-time evangelist. As he submitted completely to the will of his Lord, a song was born in his heart.".

Van Deventer is quoted as saying: "Lord, if you want me to give my full time to Thy work, I'll do it, I surrender all to Thee." Hence, the hymn "I Surrender All" came to be. He surrendered all to Christ for the rest of his life, working in both domestic and international ministry work ("I Surrender All," Hymns: A Study on Classic Hymns (Vol. 2) by Sarah Morrison (Daily Grace Co.).

What is "surrender"? Surrendering means giving you life, hopes, and worries over to God without checking on them or trying to figure out/handle it yourself. Surrendering your life fully to God takes a lot of faith. It's acknowledging that God knows better, that He knows what you need, and that your life belongs to Him. If you're going to put your trust in something in this world, it is better God than yourself. He never fails. What has helped me with learning to surrender, which is a daily practice, has been studying God's traits of Sovereignty and intentionality. If you look back at your life, you can see how detailed and purposeful He is, and how He has often saved us from our own feelings and desires. God already knows how your story ends, and you are okay and will be okay, even if things don't turn out the way you thought they would (Rom. 8:28).

As believers, we are called to surrender our lives to Christ. We are called to pick up our cross daily and to deny ourselves (Matt. 16:24). Denying yourself means denying your feelings and wants, knowing that God already has a plan for your life that will glorify Him. Surrender is when you cannot see what is ahead, taking step by step in the dark of the tunnel, relying on God every step of the way and trusting that He knows what He is doing. We need to drop our plans at His feet and step outside of our comfort zone into the unknown. When God calls you to do something, it can often feel scary, but the good news is that God will equip you because it is He who is just working through us. Surrendering can be quite the battle when you have hopes and dream of a career, travel, marriage, your own family, etc. It may even take years to fully surrender, like Judson W. Van DeVenter, but look at the impact of what happened when he finally gave his life over to God.

A phrase I've heard multiple times lately from different sources is "Often times God's plan for us looks different than from what we think it will look like." One of the examples is from the show The Chosen. I will be vague for illustrating and not wanting to spoil purposes. One of the characters worked his entire life to become an architect, and his heart behind it was wanting to build synagogues for God. When an accident happens and he loses his job, he feels so lost and forgotten by God. Later, the character is introduced to Jesus, and (fictionally) Jesus tells him that he will build synagogues and churches for God in a different way than he thought. Although this conversation was dramatized for the sake of the show, God's plans often look different than we think, even if we are on the right track of fulfilling our purpose.

The purpose of surrendering is not to get anything in return for it. The motive should be out of love, trust, and gratitude that Christ gave His life for ours. Nevertheless, when we do surrender we do receive liberty (Gal. 5:1) and our worries taken away (1 Pet. 5:7). The question is: Are you willing to give up your comforts and wants in exchange for following Jesus and for wherever God will lead you?

Lyrics to the hymn

All to Jesus, I surrender;

All to Him I freely give;

I will ever love and trust Him,

In His presence daily live.


I surrender all, I surrender all,

All to Thee, my bless'd Savior,

I surrender all.

All to Jesus I surrender;

Humbly at His feet I bow,

Worldly pleasures all forsaken;

Take me, Jesus, take me now.


All to Jesus, I surrender;

Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;

Let me feel the Holy Spirit,

Truly know that Thou art mine.


All to Jesus, I surrender;

Lord, I give myself to Thee;

Fill me with Thy love and power;

Let Thy blessing fall on me.


All to Jesus I surrender;

Now I feel the sacred flame.

O the joy of full salvation!

Supporting Scripture

Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths."

Matthew 6:33 (ESV)

"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."

Matthew 19:21 (ESV)

"Jesus said to him, 'If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.'"

Luke 18:28-30 (ESV)

"And Peter said, 'See, we have left our homes and followed you.' And he said to them, 'Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.'"

Acts 2:42-47 (ESV)

"And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved."

By: Bible and Hot Cocoa (IG: @bibleandhotcocoa)

Jules is the founder of Bible and Hot Cocoa. She is a law student with a passion for standing up for those who cannot speak for themselves, such as unborn babies, and for connecting families through adoption. In any free time, she loves to read (Victorian lit is her favorite), study theology, write, and draw or paint. Jules's favorite book of the Bible would have to be a tie among John, Psalms, and Romans (as of now), and her favorite figure besides Jesus is King David or Paul.

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