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Also see 30+ Ideas for Promoting Hymn Singing in your church. As others have contributed ideas, this wonderful resource has grown to over 80 items now. And, for more than three dozen reasons why congregations should still use hymn books rather than merely projecting words on the wall, see The Value of Hymn Books.
Words: Nathaniel Norton (b. Oct. 7, 1839; d. Nov. ___, 1925)
Music: George Coles Stebbins (b. Feb. 26, 1846; d. Oct. 6, 1945)
Note: Norton attended Yale University, and settled in the eastern United States, where he worked for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company.
An open invitation–sometimes called a standing invitation–expresses the desire of the one issuing it to receive or admit anyone who desires to come. Perhaps it’s extended to those who they’d like to visit their home, or church, or a place of business.
The phrase can, though, be used in a negative sense. For example: Leaving your keys in the ignition is an open invitation for someone to steal your car! Or there’s the invitation of the carnival barker, “Come one, come all!”–when what he offers is so often a tawdry sham. There are also some invitations we pointedly reject. It’s why we tell children not to talk to strangers. Men with an evil purpose may try to lure them with, “Come and see my puppy,” when it’s a deceitful trap.
We’re more familiar with the positive application of the term. Stores offer a standing invitation to buyers, churches to worshipers, Emergency Rooms to patients. They are implicitly saying, “If you have a need we can meet, please come and see us.”
In a letter, the Apostle Paul urges the Christians at Colosse to welcome Mark (the author of the Gospel that bears his name). The word “welcome” (dechomai in Greek) means to take by the hand. The apostle was urging them to receive him as a friend, shake his hand and give him a hearty welcome.
All through the Bible, we learn of a gracious God who extends an invitation to needy sinners, often using food and drink as a symbol of spiritual fellowship.
“Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat” (Isa. 55:1).
“Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water’” (Jn. 7:37-38).
Many have availed themselves of the spiritual life and help provided through faith in Christ. But Isaiah speaks prophetically of the rejection of the Lord by his own people. “He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him” (Isa. 53:3). Yet the Lord Jesus has continued to welcome all who would accept Him, and respond to His call (cf. Jn. 1:11-12).
“Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).
“We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain” (II Cor. 6:1).
One man who responded in faith was Nathaniel Norton. A cultured and educated gentleman, he had, however, never put his faith in Christ. But one day Pastor George Pentecost was conducting an evening service in his church when Norton was present. When a gospel invitation was given, he stood and confessed Christ as his Saviour.
That same evening, on returning home, Nathaniel Norton expressed his newfound faith, and told what he had found in Jesus–rest, peace, and life–in simple lines of verse. They were given to the George Stebbins, the musician working with Dr. Pentecost, and soon a new gospel song was born. Dwight Moody’s music director, Ira Sankey, says it was used in evangelistic meetings many times afterward.
CH-1) “Come unto Me,” it is the Saviour’s voice,
The Lord of life, who bids thy heart rejoice;
O weary heart, with heavy cares oppressed,
“Come unto Me, and I will give you rest.”
CH-2) Weary with life’s long struggle full of pain,
O doubting soul, thy Saviour calls again;
Thy doubts shall vanish and thy sorrows cease,
“Come unto Me, and I will give you peace.”
CH-3) Oh, dying man, with guilt and sin dismayed,
With conscience wakened, of thy God afraid;
Twixt hopes and fears–Oh end the anxious strife,
“Come unto Me, and I will give you life.”
1) Have you put your faith in Christ for salvation? If not, you can learn more in God’s Plan of Salvation.
2) If you are a Christian, what do you come to Christ in prayer for most often?