Thursday, March 23, 2017

Singing the Faith: Day 18: Lament and Personal Devotion

Just as I am

Like many hymns of lament and devotion, this hymn has a personal story behind it.  Charlotte Elliot (1789-1871) was the daughter of a silk merchant. In her early 30s she suffered an illness which left her permanently disabled, weak and depressed – she had been a gifted artist and writer of humorous verse.  She lived with her brother, a clergyman, and one day, frustrated at her inability to help with parish tasks, and struggling to know how she could be any use to God, she remembered the words of a visiting preacher to her many years before, that she could come to God, “just as she was”. She wrote the hymn (originally a poem) that day.

Just as I am is sung to several tunes. Woodworth (1849) , by William Bradbury is the earliest and most popular across the world, but hymn books commonly used in the Church of England usually set it to Misericordia (1875 Henry Thomas Smart) or Saffron Walden (1877) written by Arthur Henry Brown.

 Just as I am, without one plea,
but that thy blood was shed for me,
and that thou bidd'st me come to thee,
O Lamb of God, I come.

[Just as I am, and waiting not
to rid my soul of one dark blot,
to thee, whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come.]

Just as I am, though tossed about
with many a conflict, many a doubt;
fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come.

 Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
sight, riches, healing of the mind,
yea, all I need, in thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come.

Just as I am, thou wilt receive;
wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve,
because thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come.

Just as I am, thy love unknown
has broken every barrier down;
now to be thine, yea, thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come.

Just as I am, of that free love
the breadth, length, depth, and height to prove,
here for a season, then above:
O Lamb of God, I come.

  •  Do you feel you can come to God “just as you are”, or do you hang back, not feeling worthy?

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