‘My God! O Let Me Call Thee Mine!’ by Anne Brontë is a highly spiritual poem that is, in fact, a prayer to God. In this lyric, the poet persona makes known their desire to please God, despite their flaws, fears, and little faith in Him. The poem employs Early Modern English and exclaimed repetitions to emphasize the passion and eloquence of its message.
My God! O Let Me Call Thee Mine! Anne BrontëMy God! O let me call Thee mine!Weak wretched sinner though I be,My trembling soul would fain be Thine,My feeble faith still clings to Thee,My feeble faith still clings to Thee.Not only for the past I grieve,The future fills me with dismay;Unless Thou hasten to relieve,I know my heart will fall away,I know my heart will fall away.I cannot say my faith is strong,I dare not hope my love is great;But strength and love to Thee belong,O, do not leave me desolate!O, do not leave me desolate!I know I owe my all to Thee,O, take this heart I cannot give.Do Thou my Strength my Saviour be;And make me to Thy glory live!And make me to Thy glory live!
Explore My God! O Let Me Call Thee Mine!
‘My God! O Let Me Call Thee Mine!’ by Anne Brontë is a spiritual poem portraying a person’s ultimate desire to please God, despite their little faith and great fears.
‘My God! O Let Me Call Thee Mine!’ kicks off with the persona’s passionate cry to God. The poet persona asks that they and God belong to each other as lovers do. The speaker goes on to outline reasons they are undeserving of God—those reasons being their weak faith, dark pasts, sinful nature, and anxiety about the future. Nonetheless, their request remains because they believe God’s presence in their life can fix those issues. As the poem progresses, the speaker alternates these two “prayer points”: reverencing God than asking He relieves them of their worries.
The persona concludes with a final request that God makes them live in a way that pleases Him, not themselves. Although the speaker says their faith is weak, they, no doubt, believe firmly in God. Their anxiety about the future and grief from the past challenge their faith throughout the poem. However, that faith persists, as seen in the speaker’s tone and mood at the poem’s conclusion.
‘My God! O Let Me Call Thee Mine!’ comprises three stanzas: the first having ten lines and the last two having five lines each. The poem features an iambic tetrameter, following the rhyme scheme ABABBCDCDD EFEFF CGCGG. Throughout the poem, Brontë makes ample use of punctuations to indicate pauses and express strong emotions.
- Apostrophe: This is the dominant literary device in ‘My God! O Let Me Call Thee Mine!’ Throughout the poem, the persona addresses God, who isn’t physically present with them.
- Repetition: Repetition is the second most dominant device in the poem. It appears at regular intervals—stanza 1 lines 4-5 and 9-10, stanza 2 lines 4-5, and stanza 3 lines 4-5—where the speaker echoes their requests and the reasons for them. This highlights the sense of urgency in the poem.
- Anaphora: Anaphora appears in stanza 1 lines 3-5, where the word “My…” begins each line. In stanza 2 lines 1-2, “I…” begins both lines as well.
- Personification: Non-human things take on human characteristics and actions in stanza 1 line 3 (“trembling soul”), stanza 2 lines 4-5 (faith…clings) and stanza 1 lines 9-10 (my heart will fall away).
- Inversion: Inversion is prominent throughout the poem, and common with most poetry from the 19th century. It appears in stanza 1 line 2, where Brontë upends the normal word order of subject-verb-predicate. Other instances of inversion are found in stanza 2 line 3 and stanza 3 lines 4-5.
- Irony: In stanza 3 line 2, the speaker makes a strange request for God to take their heart, though they cannot give it. This ironic statement reveals the persona’s struggles with totally relying on God. Despite that, they still address God with passion; another irony, considering they claim to have little faith in Him.
My God! O let me call Thee mine!
Weak wretched sinner though I be,
My trembling soul would fain be Thine,
My feeble faith still clings to Thee,
My feeble faith still clings to Thee.
Not only for the past I grieve,
The future fills me with dismay;
Unless Thou hasten to relieve,
I know my heart will fall away,
I know my heart will fall away.
From Brontë’s history and religion, the use of terminologies like “faith” and “wretched sinner”, and the mention of God as “God”, “Thee” or “Thou”—as in the King James Version of the Bible—the poet persona is of a Christian faith. In this stanza, the speaker tables three requests before God—that God is theirs, they be God’s, and God relieves them of their worries.
The first two requests are a reference to the Bible’s Songs of Solomon 6:3: “I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine…” with the person, “Beloved”, being God. Through this reference, readers gauge the level of intimacy between this speaker and God. With these two requests, readers also tell of the speaker’s intention to first approach God softly, like a person does their lover. By beginning with intimate pleas, the speaker intends to soften God’s heart before revealing their third request, which has more to do with them than God.
The speaker also admits to their flaws, fears, and little faith in this stanza. All three cast a somber spell on the entire poem. Regardless, words like “cling” in lines 4 and 5 reveal the speaker’s determination to believe in God. It makes the phrase, “feeble faith”, in those same lines oxymoronic. Clinging is an action that requires strength. When used in this poem, readers see the speaker’s faith is not so feeble after all.
Lastly, readers glimpse the persona’s anxiety and impatience between lines 8-10. In line 8, the speaker asks God to quickly take away their worries and grief. This sense of urgency only shows when the persona makes their more personal request, exposing people’s innate tendency to be more concerned about themselves.
I cannot say my faith is strong,
I dare not hope my love is great;
But strength and love to Thee belong,
O, do not leave me desolate!
O, do not leave me desolate!
In stanza two of ‘My God! O Let Me Call Thee Mine!,’ the speaker reveals the source of their faith in and love for God. By saying “strength and love” belong to God, the speaker indirectly tells readers that God is the supplier of their strength to believe and love, despite the fears and flaws mentioned in stanza one. The speaker also reaches the peak of their anxiety towards the end of this stanza, where they restate their third request from stanza one. From the passionate cries in lines four and five, readers can see that, as the speaker predicted in the first stanza, their heart has fallen away.
Stanza two echoes the all-consuming fear people feel when they think about the uncertainty of the future. Again, it makes lines 1 and 2 of this stanza appear ironic, considering the speaker continues to believe God will ease their ever-increasing worry. Similarly, no matter their beliefs, most people are determined to get by in life—despite this lurking fear. Furthermore, lines 1 and 2 of this stanza portray the speaker’s humility before God. This trait references the Publican from one of Jesus’s parables, who also humbly prayed to God.
I know I owe my all to Thee,
O, take this heart I cannot give.
Do Thou my Strength my Saviour be;
And make me to Thy glory live!
And make me to Thy glory live!
The final stanza of ‘My God! O Let Me Call Thee Mine!’ is a reference to John 17:10: “And all mine are thine, and thine are mine, and I am glorified in them.” This Bible verse is a restatement of Songs of Solomon 6:3, and therefore a restatement of the speaker’s first two requests. The fact that the poem begins and ends with those requests indicates that those are the persona’s ultimate desires, and the third request was only born out of fear. At this point, two changes occur: the speaker’s tone completely loses its anxious edge and they pray this scripture to God with more passion than paranoia.
The irony in line 2 highlights the theme of surrender. By urging God to take a heart they can’t give, the speaker hints at the difficulty people often find in relinquishing control of situations in their lives. Born out of fear is a constant need to control every outcome. However, this stanza shows the poet persona surrendering that control to God, and relieving themselves of worry. From the persona’s actions, readers learn that, no matter a person’s beliefs, they can only be at peace when they stop trying to control situations clearly out of their control. Better still, people can be more at ease when they surrender control to God, who’s able to resolve their fears.
As opposed to indirectly naming God in stanza 2, here, the persona directly calls God the source of their strength (line 3). This shows the persona’s increased confidence in the poem’s conclusion. With the speaker’s growth from anxious to confident, readers can view the entire poem as the speaker’s journey to rebuilding their faith in God.
About Anne Brontë
Born 17 January 1820 in Thornton, England, Anne Brontë was an English novelist and poet from the famous Brontë family. Though her works—first written under the pseudonym, Acton Bell—are not as widely read like those of her sisters, Charlotte and Emily Brontë, Anne is known for her novels, Agnes Grey (1847) and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848). She was also the most spiritually inclined of all her sisters; she wrote many poems about God. Her novels are also known to be semi-autobiographical. Agnes Grey, for example, contains great detail from her life experiences.
Anne Brontë died of tuberculosis in May 1849, only living 29 years.
It is unclear when and where—or even if—the original version of the poem was published. However, a reformed version was published after Anne’s death in the 1850 edition of Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell by Charlotte Brontë. In this edition, the poem was titled, “The Prayer”, its structure was changed and a few lines were added.
Even without the exclamation marks, passion is evident in the speaker’s tone. Readers can tell the speaker is deeply invested in their communication with God. However, the speaker’s mood is generally somber, even though it lightens up at the poem’s conclusion.
The speaker is a firm believer in not just God, but also the Christian faith. Based on Brontë’s history, Anne Brontë herself is most likely this speaker.
Spirituality is the main theme of the poem. The poem itself is a prayer to God from the lips of a firm believer. Other themes scattered through the poem include faith, love, surrender, fear, salvation, and desperation for salvation.
It was originally written as a poem. However, the reformed version, A Prayer, was published in Songs of the Soul (1880) as a hymn. The poem is found on page 276 of this hymnal.
If you enjoyed reading ‘My God! O Let Me Call Thee Mine!’ by Anne Brontë, you should check out similar poems:
- ‘If This Be All‘ by Anne Brontë: Another poem by Anne Brontë about faith. This poem examines the speaker’s choice to hope in God in a world of sad occurrences.
- ‘On the Death of Anne Brontë‘ by Charlotte Brontë: As one would imagine, this poem is Charlotte’s grieved cry over the death of her sister, Anne, and her gratitude to God for ending Anne’s suffering from sickness.
- ‘In Memory of a Happy Day in February‘ by Anne Brontë: This is one of Anne’s happier poems. It recalls a specific memory in the February of an unspecified year.