HYMN 138 Just As I Am, Without One Plea
Text: Charlotte Elliott (1789-1871). Tune: William Bradbury (1816-1868)
1. Just as I am, without one plea, But that Thy blood was shed for me And that Thou bid'st me come to Thee, O Lamb of God, I come! I come
2. Just as I am, and waiting not To rid my soul of one dark blot; To thee whose blood can cleanse each spot O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
3. Just as I am, though tossed about With many a conflict, many a doubt Fighting and fears within, without- O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
4. Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind, Sight, riches, healing of the mind, Yea, all I need, in Thee to find O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
5. Just as I am—Thou wilt receive,
Will welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!
6. Just as I am—Thy love unknown
Has broken every barrier down;
Now to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
7. Just as I am—of that free love
The breadth, length, depth, and height to prove,
Here for a season, then above,
O Lamb of God I come, I come!
It has been said, that if we could see into the human hearts around us, as Christ can, we would weep for hours. Even the best of us. All of us have thoughts, if not deeds, that would not look pretty out on display.
To some extent we know that—hypocrisy is the compliment vice pays to virtue--as the old saying has it. Hypocrites know that it is best to appear better than they really are. The notion that we should make ready to present ourselves most favorably before the Lord shows we understand our hypocrisy, but also that we do not understand our Lord. He already knows these things and still loves us enough to have died for us.
We can see this in many of the events in his life on earth. Most particularly, the Samaritan woman he meets at Jacob’s well. As he speaks with her, he clearly knows who she is, and what she has done. When he says, call your husband, and she tells him she has none, he says she has had five and the one she is living with is not her husband. He knows her.
Rather than run away in shame and disgust, she perceives that he is a prophet. From there the narrative proceeds to Jesus proclaiming himself the Messiah. With that she runs off to tell her neighbors back in the village. One of her warrants for them to come is that Jesus told her everything she had done. I heard a sermon once that said, if he hadn’t, she might have said, he can’t really accept me because he doesn’t know everything about me. But he did and he accepted her. This is good news.
One of the great depictions of Christ's passion is Hieronymus Bosch' painting of Jesus carrying his cross to Calvary. Alongside of him are hoards of unattractive people hardly aware of what is going on, involved in their own unattractive lives. He knows these are the people he is dying for, and still he goes forward. We are in that group, all of us. He knows everything about us. There is nothing we can possibly do to hide our sins from him. On the contrary, as Charlotte Elliott’s hymn says, "Don't prepare, come, just as you are." "O Lamb of God, I come, I come.".
Charlotte Elliott was the daughter of a wealthy silk merchant. A gifted young woman, she had struggled with her worthiness to be received by Christ. She grew weary of the glittering social life that was hers. As she was struggling, the story goes, and not everyone quite agrees with it, a good friend of her father, Dr. Cesar Malan of Geneva, asked how it was with her soul. She reacted against him, but some days later, apologized, saying she had to prepare herself to be ready to give herself to the Lord. He said, "Come, just as you are." That became the starting line for the hymn. This hymn has been translated into nearly every language where there are Christians. She spent much of her life as an invalid, but continued writing hymns and traveling to places where the climate was better for her. She died in Brighton.
When Billy Graham committed his life to Christ at a revival meeting led by Mordecai Ham, this hymn was playing during the altar call. He considered it perfect for his meetings, so it became the signature hymn of his revivals. There is no count of how many walked up to the front of the auditorium to this hymn after he issued the invitation, but it must be in the millions.
William Bradbury, the American composer, set it to this tune and it has remained the most favored over the years. Bradbury, who worked for the Sunday school movement and wrote “Jesus loves me,“ had a special gift for setting texts like this.
Brisbane Australia Choir from a Billy Graham revival
George Beverly Shea
Lovely retrospective on Graham with Jeffrey Jiles violin