Mormon Tabernacle Choir Blog

I Need Thee Every Hour

The author for “I Need Thee Every Hour,” Annie Sherwood Hawks, wrote over 400 hymns in her lifetime. Born in Hoosick, New York on May 28, 1835, Hawks had a love for writing poetry, and her poems were published in local newspapers while she was still in her youth. 

In the History of Hymns series on the Mormon Channel, “I Need Thee Every Hour” was analyzed to discover its origins. Below is an excerpt:

Annie Hawks was the mother of three children when the hymn for which she is best known was written. Annie later 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. The hymn 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 have been permitted to write.”

When Hawks moved to Brooklyn with her husband, Charles Hawks, at age 24, she met a pastor named Dr. Robert S. Lowry. An accomplished composer, Lowry praised Hawks’s writing and commented, “If you'll write the words, I'll write the music.”

Hanson Place Baptist Church was where the two came in contact, and Dr. Lowry seemed to be the perfect composer to collaborate with Hawks. He wrote 500 gospel songs and contributed the music and even some of the lyrics to “I Need Thee Every Hour.” Dr. Lowry had no particular method for writing music and said of his talent, “My brain is a sort of spinning machine, I think, for there is music running through it all the time.”

“I Need Thee Every Hour” is a beloved hymn in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Its lyrics suggest a constant need for the Savior at all times of our lives. It was the favorite hymn of former President of the Church Spencer W. Kimball, who often quoted it, and even played it on the piano on occasion. Below, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir performs the inspirational hymn, which also appears on the album Hymns of Faith (Legacy Series).