“I love to tell the story” by Katherine Hankey (1870), despite its late publication date, had been quickly picked up by late-century children’s hymn books (including the 1878 Songs of Love and Mercy for the Young, 1879 Methodist Sunday-School Hymn-Book, and 1890 Golden Bells). Taken from a long poem on the life of Jesus by Hankey (1866), these lines reflect more generically on that story in order to emphasize the joy of telling the story “of Jesus and His glory” (v. 1). Its intricate ABAB rhyme, coupled with the engrossing tune (“Hankey”) by William G. Fischer, gives pulse and vibrancy to this hymn. The message is clinched in the second half of each verse as the title is repeated and given personal reflection: “It satisfies my longings/ As nothing else can do” (v. 1). A refrain added by Fischer—repetitive yet soaring to a high E above middle C—creates a triumphant finish. Hankey would be known only for this one hymn but it became so popular that she wrote a separate catechism using the title from it (titled “The Old, Old Story”). The hymn, though never addressing children directly, appeals to them with rhyme, repetition, and tune.
More discussion of this hymn can be found in Chapter 3, British Hymn Books for Children.