I Need Thee Every Hour
Though not of Latter-day Saint origin, this hymn strikes a meaningful chord among Latter- day Saints in its humble pleading for the constant presence of the Savior. In this hymn we petition him repeatedly to be with us, not just in our church meetings, not just in times of trial, not just on special spiritual occasions, but every hour.
Author Annie S. Hawks was a member of the Park Avenue Baptist Church in Plainfield, New Jersey, where Robert Lowry was her pastor. She was a prolific writer, and he set many of her texts to music.
Both author and composer commented on the creative process behind the hymn. Annie S. Hawks wrote: “I remember well the morning . . . when in the midst of the daily cares of my home . . . I was so filled with the sense of the nearness of the Master that, wondering how one could live without Him either in joy or pain, these words ‘I need Thee every hour’ were ushered into my mind. . . . It was wafted out to the world on the wings of love and joy, rather than under the stress of great personal sorrow. . . . It was not until long years after, when the shadow [of a great loss] fell over my way . . . that I understood something of the comforting in the words I had been permitted to write.” Robert Lowry commented: “I have no method [of writing songs]. Sometimes the music comes and the words follow. . . . I watch my moods, and when anything strikes me, whether words or music, no matter where I am, at home, or on the street, I jot it down. . . . My brain is a sort of spinning- machine, I think, for there is music running through it all the time. I do not pick out my music on the keys of an instrument. The tunes of nearly all the hymns I have written have been completed on paper before I tried them on the organ” (quoted in Phil Kerr, Music in Evangelism [Glendale, Calif.: Gospel Music Publishers, 1939], 145, 223–24).