The Gospel Hymn Project: I Have Decided to Follow Jesus

When my kids were small (they’re grown adults now), our family attended a young church where I was involved with the music ministry. Occasionally, I’d work up a jazz arrangement of a favorite church hymn and play it as a solo guitar piece. It’s been years since I’ve played those jazzy hymns and I just recently decided to start doing them again. Those wonderful old hymns have encouraged many people, myself included, for years. The songs are simple enough that they lend themselves to be easily re-purposed into other musical genres.

This piece was a fun song to work on as I did it as an acoustic guitar piece along with a smooth jazz arrangement in the same recording. I did a couple of different versions of it. One I did on classical guitar (my favorite version) and the second one on acoustic steel string guitar. I did a video for that version on my video page here on this website.

My plan is to do a collection of Jazz hymns and I wanted to start with this particular song first because it is my own personal statement of commitment of faith to follow Jesus. This was a decision I made when I was a young man of 23, after seeing and hearing the Gospel lived out by a number of people I was encountering in my life. It was a point of surrender to God who had been pulling at my heart for a years prior. So after thinking back at the way my life was impacted and changed, I wanted to honor what God has done (and continues to do) for me and my family by starting on this Gospel Hymn Project.

The Amazing Story Behind This Song

The history of this song is an amazing story of bold faith and commitment in the face of persecution against people against Christians. I’ve included an inspiring video below that tells the story. But as a prelude to that, the following is the background of the hymn from Wikipedia:

“I Have Decided to Follow Jesus is a Christian hymn that originated in Assam, India. According to P. Job, the lyrics are based on the last words of Nokseng, a Garo man, a tribe from Meghalaya which then was in Assam, who converted to Christianity in the middle of the 19th century through the efforts of an American Baptist missionary. He is said to have recited verses from the twelfth chapter of the book of John as he and his family were killed.”

The lyrics…

I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
No turning back, no turning back.

Tho’ none go with me, I still will follow,
Tho’ none go with me I still will follow,
Tho’ none go with me, I still will follow;
No turning back, no turning back.

My cross I’ll carry, till I see Jesus;
My cross I’ll carry till I see Jesus,
My cross I’ll carry till I see Jesus;
No turning back, No turning back.

The world behind me, the cross before me,
The world behind me, the cross before me;
The world behind me, the cross before me;
No turning back, no turning back.


Please Help: Persecution against Christians is growing at an astronomical rate globally. If you’re interested in learning more about it and what you can do to help, please check out Open Doors and the wonderful work that they are doing around the world. Please join me in supporting this vital ministry for our brothers and sisters in Christ.