Above is a brand-new video from Citizens of “In Tenderness,” a track off their debut EP, Already / Not Yet, which came out last week. Below is a short bio on the hymn’s author, W. Spencer Walton, written by Jameson Bratcher, who plays the tuba in another Mars Hill Band that also plays the hymn regularly in their worship sets, The Sing Team.
Oh, the love that sought me!
Oh, the blood that bought me!
W. Spencer Walton lived his life in light of this truth. Although Walton grew up in the church, at the age of 22, he marked February 17 as his “new birthday.” The change is easily seen in his journal and he expressed his regret of 22 years of a “hypocritical and wasted life” of hoping works would save him.
With his conversion came immediate action to share the love Christ had shown him. Deeply compelled by the Bible, he spoke God’s word to the districts surrounding his home. However, his work as a broker left him longing for the day when he could broaden his mission and the “fetters of business should be broken.” He remembered, “Was not HE patient? And ought I not to be so too?” Walton proved faithful with what he had been given and his mission expanded, first to the British Isles and then to southern Africa.
Walton’s calling as a missionary found its focus in South Africa through invitation of a friend. Upon his first visit, the varied needs of the land convicted him to found the Cape General Mission, an interdenominational outpost dedicated to serving the needs of the African natives, European immigrants, and transient sailors of the region. The diverse and large area in which he ministered found him preaching everywhere from churches to mud huts, gardens to military tents made of excess canvas.
While with adoring wonder
His blessings I retrace
Although many missionaries sow a seed for another to harvest, Walton was continually blessed to meet many who his previous missions had blessed. These encounters further encouraged him to preach the evangelic message of the gospel in order to see the far corners of the globe come to know Jesus.
As the mission in South Africa grew, Walton’s role changed. His days were spent traveling among churches in America and Britain to gain further support and funding for the mission in Africa. He said, “My endeavours will be to foster a higher Christian life; for if the life is right with God, all things needful will follow.” Throughout his busy travels he was encouraged by the faithfulness God showed through his churches. Both large and small gave generously to the mission in Africa.
It seems as if eternal days
Are far too short to sing his praise!
Shortly after the tour, while on vacation with his family, Walton’s health plummeted in a span of a few days. He did not realize he was dying, so his wife felt he must be told the seriousness of his illness. She recounts his response in her diary: “Well, darling. He knows I’m ready. I’ve been ready for 34 years. Bless His Name!” He spent his remaining days blessing his children and having messages written to his friends and the missionaries he was leaving. He died at the age of 56.
W. Spencer Walton wrote, “Conversion without consecration is a death blow to progress. Consecration without faith is destitute of power.” The beauty of the gospel he portrayed in the hymn “In Tenderness He Sought Me” led him to a life dedicated to sharing Jesus’ love to the world: we were sought by Christ’s love and bought by his blood in order to share God’s love with others.