Posted by: rcottrill | May 7, 2014

Jesus, I Come

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Words: William True Sleeper (b. Feb. 9, 1819; d. Sept. 24, 1904)
Music: George Coles Stebbins (b. Feb. 26, 1846; d. Oct. 6, 1945)


Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: This hymn was published in 1897. Pastor Sleeper also wrote the gospel song Ye Must Be Born Again, published ten years earlier. George Stebbins, who lived for nearly a century, provides a bridge between the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries. He knew many of the prominent hymn writers of a former time, and some of the newer ones as well. His book, Reminiscences and Gospel Hymn Stories, gives us a valuable firsthand look at a bygone day.

T his is a hymn of surrender and commitment, voicing the heartache of the sinner coming to Christ for salvation and spiritual restoration. The poetry is dense, perceptive, and often convicting. More than a dozen lines present the trials and troubles of a needy soul, seeking the Lord and His grace for the answer.

CH-1. Look at the words that describe the sinner’s condition: bondage, sorrow, night, sickness, want and sin. And I don’t think the reference to sickness and want has to do with the modern Prosperity Gospel, which lures the naive with a promise of unfailing health, wealth, and happiness. In this case the words are used to describe the soul-sickness of sin, and the spiritual poverty of one without God.

The contrasting condition of one who has put his faith in Christ is portrayed with the words: freedom, gladness, light, health and wealth (spiritually), and the wonderful assurance of being in Christ. This latter phrase, “in Christ,” or “in Him,” is used over and over by the Apostle Paul to indicate the Christian’s eternal standing or position. Legally, God sees us in His Son, and therefore having participated in His death and resurrection (Rom. 8:1; II Cor. 5:17; Eph. 1:3, 6, 7; Col. 2:10, etc.).

CH-1) Out of my bondage, sorrow, and night,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into Thy freedom, gladness, and light,
Jesus, I come to Thee;
Out of my sickness, into Thy health,
Out of my want and into Thy wealth,
Out of my sin and into Thyself,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

CH-2. The list goes on: shameful failure and loss, sorrows, storms, distress. And the contrast is painted again: glorious gain, Thy [restorative] balm, Thy calm, and jubilant psalm–joyful songs arising from the hearts of the redeemed.

CH-3. More of the sinners plight: unrest, arrogant pride (self rule, and the attempt to live independently of God), and despair, contrasted with: delighting to do Thy blessed will, Thy love, raptures above, the latter perhaps indicating heavenly joy and a heavenly inheritance, claimed one day when we go to be with Christ.

CH-3) Out of unrest and arrogant pride,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into Thy blessèd will to abide,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of myself to dwell in Thy love,
Out of despair into raptures above,
Upward for aye on wings like a dove,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

CH-4. Finally, the hymn faces us with the fear and dread of the tomb and the depths of ruin untold. It is as though there is nothing after this life to look forward to, until one comes to the Saviour. Then, we have joy and light, peace in His sheltering fold, and the Lord’s glorious presence forever.

CH-4) Out of the fear and dread of the tomb,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into the joy and light of Thy home,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of the depths of ruin untold,
Into the peace of Thy sheltering fold,
Ever Thy glorious face to behold,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

For some reason the Cyber Hymnal has, for stanza 4, line 3, “Into the joy and light of Thy throne.” But none of the hymn books I reviewed has that–including Gospel Hymns #5, where it was published originally in 1887. The contrast is between the fear of death and the grave, as opposed to the wonder of our heavenly “home,” our “sheltering fold.” That the throne of God will be there is not the issue in this case.

“Ever Thy glorious face to behold” is the climax of all. Over and over, the Scriptures picture heaven in terms of being with the Lord forever (cf. Jn. 14:3; 17:24; II Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:23; I Thess. 4:17; I Jn. 3:2). What a day that will be!

1) Can you think of other significant contrasts between the lost sinner and the redeemed child of God?

2) Are you rejoicing today in all the blessings you have in Christ?


Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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