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Words: Frances Jane (“Fanny”) Crosby (b. Mar. 24, 1820; d. Feb. 12, 1915)
Music: William James Kirkpatrick (b. Feb. 27, 1838; d. Sept. 20, 1921)
Note: The Cyber Hymnal gives a date of 1886 for the publication of this hymn, but Hymnary.org includes a hymnal that has a date of 1885 for it. As to the tune by Kirkpatrick, Living Hymns alters the chorus slightly, and it seems more singable.
The word is found in large block letters on the mat at our front door:
The expression has been around for hundreds of years, as a friendly greeting that said, “It is our will and pleasure to have you come to us.” Will…come! That’s not at all like the gag version of a welcome mat I saw which said, “Oh no! Not You Again!”
Most often visitors are welcomed to our homes, but I recall a time when that wasn’t so for me. With some effort, my son and I tracked down the house where I lived with my parents more than seventy years ago. No one seemed to be home, so I knocked at the neighbour’s door to share our exciting discovery.
A man and a woman opened the door a crack, but they may have thought either that we were cult members coming to convert them, or salesmen wanting to sell them something. In spite of my explanation, they remained surly, and quickly closed the door.
Aren’t you glad the Lord isn’t like that? “Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden,” says Jesus, “and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). And “the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out [never turn away]” (Jn. 6:37).
Christians are also given a warm invitation to come to God in prayer. “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16). “Boldly.” That doesn’t mean rudely or without due reverence. It means that we can come with cheerful confidence before God’s throne. Through faith in Christ we are part of God’s family, and the Lord invites His children to tell Him what’s on their hearts.
Hymn writer Fanny Crosby wrote a song about the Lord’s welcome in 1885. She used some unusual imagery to picture what it was like, taking us all the way back to the flood of Noah’s day.
Because of the unparalleled wickedness that was spreading across the earth, God told faithful Noah that He was going to destroy all that breathed, humans and animals (Gen. 6:12-13, 17). But Noah was to build a huge ark, 450 feet, or 137 metres long (Gen. 6:14-16). In it he and his family, eight people in all, plus representatives of all the animal species, would be preserved during the flood (vs. 19-21).
Genesis chapter 7 describes the stormy progress of the flood until the entire earth was covered. In all, Noah and his family were kept safe there from the deluge, for about a year. Then, finally, the flood waters began to recede, and the ark came to rest in the mountains of Ararat (Gen. 8:4).
Noah needed to know when it was safe to leave the ark, when they’d be able to survive in the new post-flood world. To test this, he released a dove through the window in the ark. But the Bible says, “The dove found no resting place for the sole of her foot, and she returned into the ark to him, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth. So he put out his hand and took her, and drew her into the ark to himself” (Gen. 8:9).
It was that little incident of the dove returning to what had been her home for many months that Fanny Crosby used to picture the repentant sinner seeking the love and forgiveness of the Lord.
CH-1) Like a bird on the deep, far away from its nest,
I had wandered, my Saviour, from Thee,
But Thy dear loving voice called me home to Thy breast,
And I knew there was welcome for me.
A welcome for me,
Loving Saviour from Thee;
Just a smile and a welcome for me;
Now I’m safe like a dove,
As I rest in Thy love,
And I find a sweet refuge in Thee.
CH-2) I am safe in the ark; I have folded my wings
On the bosom of mercy divine;
I am filled with the light, of Thy presence so bright,
And the joy that will ever be mine.
CH-3) I am safe in the ark, and I dread not the storm,
Though around me the surges may roll;
I will look to the skies, where the day never dies,
I will sing of the joy in my soul.
1) What do you do for visitors to make them feel welcome when they come to call at your home?
2) What do you do for Christ to show He is welcome in your heart and life?