James Edwin Orr - Lyrics
Born: January 12, 1912, Belfast, Ireland.
Died: April 22, 1987, Ridgecrest, North Carolina.
Buried: Conejo Mountain Memorial Park, Camarillo Springs, California.
James Edwin Orr was born on January 12, 1912, in Belfast, Ireland, of an American father and a British mother. His education includes earned doctorates from universities in Europe, Asia, Africa, and America including the Doctor of Philosophy from Oxford University and the Ed.D. from U.C.L.A. in 1971. He is a member of many learned societies. Dr. Orr also served as a chaplin in the United States Air Force in the Pacific from 1943-46. Since World War II, Mr. and Mrs. Orr have been California residents. In his many travels, Dr. Orr has visited a hundred and fifty countries,including the Soviet Union, and has been in two-thirds of the world’s six hundred major cities.
Despite these numerous life-long accomplishments for God, J. Edwin Orr will no doubt be best remembered as the author of a simple, yet, one of the most challenging, revival hymn texts in all of hymnody. Dr. Orr recalls that he wrote the “Cleanse Me” text, in 1936, as a result of great inspiration during a revival convention in Ngaruawahia, New Zealand. For some time prior to this Campaign, an attitude of unusual expectancy had been prevalent among these people. Prayer meetings spread throughout the city with much fervency, and intercession led to wide-spread confessions and reconciliations among the believers. The regular Sunday tent meeting was so crowded that a midnight service had to be scheduled, and great numbers of unconverted students professed faith in Christ. The next night was given over to exultant testimony, with singing “such as one expects in heaven.” The revival news soon spread throughout all of New Zealand and a similar revival spirit characterized later campaigns held in Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and Auckland.
Dr. Orr reports that as he was leaving New Zealand, four Aborigine girls approached and sang for him the beautiful Maoria Song of Farewell:
Po atu rau. I moe a i ho ne; E haere ana, Koe ki pa ma mao;
Haere ra, Ma hara mai ano Ki-ite tau, I tangi at nei.
Mr. Orr was so impressed with the beauty of this Polynesian melody that soon afterward he wrote new verses to the tune on the back of an envelope in the post office at the little town in Ngaruawahia. Though the words were an out-growth of his New Zealand campaigns, the text was based on the familiar words of Scripture found in Psalm 139:23-24:
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me,and lead me in the way everlasting.
Further campaigns by Dr. Orr throughout Australia in the 1930’2 and later in nearly all of the English-speaking world, soon popularized this prayer hymn everywhere. During the 1952 campaign in Brazil, the Portuguese translation of the hymn was again instrumental in the spiritual awakening in that country.
The “Maori” tune has also been widely used with the secular ballad “Now Is the Hour,” especially popular during the World War II years and throughout the 1950’s.
Revival in Scripture, wrote Dr. Orr, must be recognized as the work of God–”Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?” Psalm 85:6 “O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy” Habakkuk 3:2.
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalms 139 23-24
Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart. For thy lovingkindness is before mine eyes: and I have walked in thy truth. I have not sat with vain persons, neither will I go in with dissemblers. I have hated the congregation of evil doers; and will not sit with the wicked. Psalms 26 2-5
Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the LORD. Lamentation 3:40
For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. 1 Corinthians 11:31-32
But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. Galatians 6:4
Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? 2 Corinthians 13:5
Search Me, O God
Search me, O God, and know my heart today;
Try me, O Savior, know my thoughts, I pray.
See if there be some wicked way in me;
Cleanse me from every sin and set me free.
I praise Thee, Lord, for cleansing me from sin;
Fulfill Thy Word, and make me pure within.
Fill me with fire where once I burned with shame;
Grant my desire to magnify Thy Name.
Lord, take my life, and make it wholly Thine;
Fill my poor heart with Thy great love divine.
Take all my will, my passion, self and pride;
I now surrender, Lord in me abide.
O Holy Ghost, revival comes from Thee;
Send a revival, start the work in me.
Thy Word declares Thou wilt supply our need;
For blessings now, O Lord, I humbly plead.
taken from Bible Study charts