Posted by: rcottrill | August 31, 2012

Jesus Is Calling

Words: Frances Jane (“Fanny”) Crosby (b. Mar. 24, 1820; d. Feb. 12, 1915)
Music: George Coles Stebbins (b. Feb. 26, 1846; d. Oct. 6, 1945)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: There are several hymns posted in the Cyber Hymnal entitled Jesus Is Calling. To distinguish this one, it is listed there as Jesus Is Tenderly Calling You Home. And regarding that word “You,” sometimes the modernizing of the language of our hymns and gospel songs gets in the way of the poetry, and occasionally even the message suffers. In this case, it isn’t difficult to change “thee” and “thy” to “you” and “your,” as some hymn books have done–and if you see a need for that.

Composer George Stebbins also provided the tune for Fanny Crosby’s Saved by Grace. The two servants of the Lord are notable for their long lives. Stebbins’s ninety-nine years provided a link between the gospel song writers of the nineteenth century and those who ministered well into the twentieth. Because he knew many of the earlier musicians and evangelists personally, he was a source of important information. This is preserved in George Stebbins’s 1924 book Reminiscences and Gospel Hymn Stories.

Before he entered his music ministry, including a twenty-five year association with Mr. Moody, Stebbins married Elma Miller and the two formed a wonderful partnership. She often travelled with him, even on long trips overseas. Elma sang duets with George, and conducted meetings for ladies during evangelistic crusades.

The present hymn was written in 1883, after Mr. Stebbins returned from an evangelistic tour of Scotland with D. L. Moody, and it was intended to be used with invitations to trust Christ as Saviour in evangelistic meetings. The composer confesses he didn’t think much of it at the time, and was surprised at how popular and useful it became.

CH-1) Jesus is tenderly calling thee home
Calling today, calling today,
Why from the sunshine of love wilt thou roam,
Farther and farther away?

Calling today, calling today,
Jesus is calling,
Is tenderly calling today.

“Calling today,” yes. And actually, today (in fact, the present moment) is the only time that God guarantees us. It is dangerous to put off a decision for Christ as the Roman governor Felix did when he said to Paul, “When I have a more convenient time I will call for you” (Acts 24:25). As the Lord Jesus indicates in a parable, the devil is most adept at snatching away the seed of the Word that it is sown, before it has to time to take root and bear fruit (Matt. 13:4, 19). Paul urged those to whom the Lord had graciously presented His Word to respond, without delay.

“We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For He says: ‘In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you.’ Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (II Cor. 6:1-2).

God Himself warns that withholding a commitment to Him tries His patience, and could well end in disaster. “Today, if you will hear His voice: Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion, as in the day of trial in the wilderness, when your fathers tested Me; they tried Me, though they saw My work” (Ps. 95:7-9). The grace of God is profound, reaching to the worst of sinners, but the invitation isn’t extended indefinitely. The day of opportunity will end. As the hymn puts it, “Come, and no longer delay.”

CH-3) Jesus is waiting, O come to Him now,
Waiting today, waiting today,
Come with thy sins, at His feet lowly bow;
Come, and no longer delay.

The one who comes to Christ has this wonderful promise: “The one who comes to Me I will be no means [not under any circumstances, not for any reason] cast out” (Jn. 6:37). Even a condemned criminal on the brink of death was welcomed by the Saviour (Lk. 23:42-43). “Let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:17). How gracious of the Lord to extend an invitation to lost sinners to come to Him and be saved! (Cf. II Pet. 3:9-10.)

1) What excuses do some give for putting off a decision to receive Christ? What is likely the real reason beneath the surface?

2) What are your favourite hymns of invitation? Does your church make use of them?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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