Behind the Song Sunday: I Love To Tell the Story
I Love to Tell the Story and Tell Me the Old, Old Story are sister songs. They were both written by Kate Hankey. Arabella Katherine Hankey was born in 1834. She lived in London with her family, but was influenced by John Wesley and his work. At the age of eighteen, she organized a Bible study for girls working in the factory. Kate was a Sunday School teacher that organized classes for both the rich and poor. Kate was musically inclined and often wrote melodies with her poems.
In 1866, at the age of thirty, Kate became ill. Her illness and recovery left her bedridden during her long convalescence. While homebound, Kate wrote a lengthy poem about the life of Christ. The poem was divided into two sections. The first was titled “The Story Wanted” and the second part was titled “The Story Told.” Each section consisted of fifty verses.
After her recovery, Major General Russell read the poem at the International Convention of Young Men’s Christian Association. Everyone was left breathless by the time he finished reading the poem.
Bishop William Doane was in the audience and put the first part of the poem to music. This became known as the hymn “Tell Me the Old, Old Story.”
William G. Fischer put the second part to music. This is the hymn we now know as “I Love To Tell the Story.”
I Love To Tell the Story first appeared in a hymnal in 1869. The hymn became a popular Moody Sankey song during their crusades.
Kate had such a heart for missions, that she later donated all of her income to missions work. She served as a missionary with her brother in Africa. Kate Hankey overcame her illness and lived to be 77, dying in 1911.