Posted by: rcottrill | July 3, 2017

Behold, a Stranger at the Door

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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: Joseph Grigg (b. circa _____, 1720; d. Oct. 29, 1768)
Music: Federal Street, by Henry Keble Oliver (b. Nov. 24, 1800; d. Aug. 12, 1885)


Wordwise Hymns (Joseph Grigg)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Grigg was born into an impoverished home. In his early years, he trained to be what was called a mechanic. In the days before automobiles, that word was used of those involved in various kinds of manual labour, including bakers, brewers, blacksmiths, tailors, and more.

In 1743, Mr. Grigg became the assistant pastor to Thomas Bures, at a Presbyterian church on Silver Street in London. When Bures died, four years later, Grigg resigned his position, though he continued to preach in many churches. He also wrote more than forty hymns–apparently beginning to do so at the early age of ten. The present one, in its original form, had a dozen stanzas.

As well as friends and family, others we don’t know personally will sometimes come to our doors. Those representing charities, salesmen wanting us to purchase their products, politicians seeking our vote, cult members trying promoting their teachings, all knock, or ring the bell, at one time or another.

Some are welcome, some aren’t, but most of them want something from us. An exception we’ve experienced lately is a young girl with energy to burn who’s shown up at our door several times. Carrying either a shovel or a rake, she’s volunteered to shovel our snow, or rake our leaves. Though I’ve given her a bit of money when the work was done, she’s never asked for it. Her motive seems to be mainly joyful service.

The Avon Lady and the Fuller Brush Man have represented their companies so long they’ve become American institutions. Alfred Fuller founded the latter business in Boston, in 1906. He started with an investment of $375, and made brushes at night, in a workshop in his sister’s basement. During the day, he offered the brushes for sale door-to-door.

The size of the firm has expanded greatly since those days, and they now include in their catalogue home care and personal care products. Their fame was exploited in two movies, The Fuller Brush Man, starring Red Skelton (1948), and the Fuller Brush Girl, with Lucille Ball (1950). It might surprise you to know that evangelist Billy Graham, in his early days, was a salesman for the company.

In the Bible, the Lord Jesus is pictured as knocking at the door, in a spiritual sense. In a brief message to a church in Loadicea, Christ is scathing in His criticism of them (Rev. 3:14-19). He describes them as materially rich and self-satisfied, but spiritually bankrupt, and calls on them to repent. It seems as though, with all their rituals and religiosity, they had left Christ out. To them Jesus says:

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him [a symbol of fellowship], and he with Me” (Rev. 3:20).

And what was true for a church has meaning for us personally, too. The Saviour who loves us wants us to trust in Him, and open our lives to Him. We can picture Him at the door of the sinner’ heart, graciously knocking, and patiently waiting.

“As many as received Him [Christ], to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but [born] of God” (Jn. 1:12-13; cf. Jn. 3:3).

The waiting Lord Jesus was portrayed on canvas with a painting of William Holman Hunt’s. Completed in 1853, and called The Light of the World, it pictures Christ standing before a door, seeking entrance. Joseph Grigg wrote a hymn on the same Bible passage about a century before Hunt created his thoughtful painting.

CH-1) Behold, a Stranger at the door!
He gently knocks, has knocked before,
Has waited long, is waiting still:
You treat no other friend so ill.

CH-3) But will He prove a friend indeed?
He will; the very friend you need;
The Friend of sinners–yes, ’tis He,
With garments dyed on Calvary.

CH-6) If thou art poor–and poor thou art–
Lo! He has riches to impart;
Not wealth, in which mean avarice rolls;
O better far, the wealth of souls.

CH-9) Admit Him, for the human breast
Ne’er entertained so kind a Guest;
No mortal tongue their joys can tell
With whom He condescends to dwell.

1) Is Christ knocking at the door of your own heart–or the heart of someone you know?

2) What is keeping you (or the person mentioned above) from opening the door?


Wordwise Hymns (Joseph Grigg)
The Cyber Hymnal


  1. I love hymns and am going to encourage my church to sing some. They are open to it and sing hymns on occasion but there are so many good ones. Thank you for increasing my awareness of them

    • Thank you for your note. You have virtually summarized my whole purpose in the many hundreds of hours spent–and still being spent–on the site. Increasing the awareness of believers regarding our heritage of sacred song is what this blog is all about. God bless you in your efforts to give your congregation a taste of the depth and beauty of our hymnody.


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