Hymns & Songs

Come just as you are

Sep 2016    

“If God loved me, He would not have treated me this way.” This was one of her typical emotional outbursts when Charlotte Elliot (1789-1871) vented her frustrations, condemning God for His cruelty to her.1 At the age of 33, when Charlotte should have been enjoying life as a portrait artist and writer, she became a semi-invalid for life after suffering a serious ailment.

“Carefree Charlotte”, as she was known, became depressed and experienced a severe spiritual crisis as she felt useless, not being able to do anything except to lay in bed. These negative thoughts poisoned her heart and put a strain on the lives of the entire family.

To uplift the listless spirit of his daughter, the Rev Charles Elliot invited Dr Cesar Malan, a noted Swiss minister and musician, to be a guest in their home at Westfield Lodge, Brighton, England, in May 1822.2> Sensing Charlotte’s spiritual distress, Dr Malan exclaimed: “Charlotte, you must come just as you are – as a sinner – to the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!”3 Wanting to be freed from her hate and anger, Charlotte replied: “I would come to God just as I am.”

From then on, Charlotte experienced inner peace and joy in spite of her physical affliction. She placed complete trust in Christ’s redemptive sacrifice for her and penned her spiritual autobiography in a six-stanza poem, ‘Just As I Am, Without One Plea’, which became one of the most influential hymns.

Down through the years, Charlotte’s hymn has brought consolation and encouragement to untold thousands, so much so that her brother, the Rev Henry Venn Elliot, later testified: “In all my preaching, I have not done so much good as my sister has been permitted to accomplish by her one hymn ‘Just as I Am’.” 4

So let us join with all Christians who experience doubt and uncertainty in their faith, to give thanks to God for His unconditional acceptance of who we are, and respond to Jesus’ invitation to come – just as we are.

 

Just As I Am, Without One Plea (The United Methodist Hymnal, #357)

Just as I am, without one plea, 

but that thy blood was shed for me, 

and that thou bidst me come to thee, 

O Lamb of God, I come, 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, 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, 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, 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, I come. 

 

Just as I am, thy love unknown 

hath broken every barrier down; 

now, to be thine, yea thine alone, 

O Lamb of God, I come, I come. 

 

Words: Charlotte Elliot, 1835

Music: William B. Bradbury, 1849

 


1 Ernest K. Emurian, Living Stories of Famous Hymns (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1955), 72.

2 Ibid., 72.

3 Kenneth W. Osbeck, 101 Hymn Stories (Grand Rapids, Mich: Kregel Publications, 1982), 177.

4 Ernest K. Emurian, Living Stories of Famous Hymns (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1955), 73.

 

 

Picture by NejroN Photo/Bigstock.com

 

Dr Yeo Teck Beng –

is Principal of the Methodist School of Music, and a member of Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church.

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