Have you ever been in the middle of an argument?
You know, the kind in which you can see both people’s perspective and are trying to bring them together, but they won’t have it! That’s a bit like what it feels to be a worship leader. And I say that with a smile on my face, but it’s true all the same.
A month ago I had two conversations in the same week. In one conversation, I was defending new songs and choruses to someone who wanted to “sing the hymns the way they were supposed to be sung!” And later in the same week, I was defending hymns to someone who didn’t want to “sing all those boring old songs!” And I was glad to have those conversations. We need both.
- We sing new songs because our God is always making things new. And it’s a way for us to sing God’s praises and God’s story in our own generation.
- We sing old songs because we didn’t invent this faith. It was passed from the Apostles down to us. If we only sing new songs, we have spiritual amnesia and are tempted to forget that God is the same yesterday, today and forever.
So this week we are learning a new/old song. It’s called “Come Ye Sinners” and I couldn’t be more excited. It’s a song that was sung by UB believers back in the 1800’s during the Western expansion to far away places like Indiana! You can see a page from the hymnal here. It’s also a timeless call to all sinners to come to Jesus, the Savior.
It was written by Englishman, Joseph Hart. But it wasn’t popular in his home country of Britain. It was popular in the U.S.! According to Baptist hymnologist William J. Reynolds, “the hymn has been a favorite of evangelicals in the United States for two hundred years.”
The song may come from Hart’s own experience. For a number of years he drifted from the faith he grew up with, and in his own words became a “loose backslider, an audacious apostate, and a bold-faced rebel.” In 1757, at the age of 45, he came to faith after attending a service. Two years later, he wrote this song…
Come ye sinners, poor and needy
Weak and wounded sick and sore
Jesus ready stands to save you
With compassion, love and power
Come ye thirsty to the fountain (John 7:38)
Come and find His goodness here
True belief and true repentance
Every grace brings You near
All three verses of the song come from this passage and the words of Jesus:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” -Matt 11:28-30
And then the Chorus:
I will rise and go to Jesus
He will embrace me as His own
In the arms of my Savior
There is life forevermore
The anonymous chorus begins with the line “I will arise and go to Jesus”. It is making a reference to the parable of the Prodigal Son.
“But when [the son] came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.’ And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. -Luke 15:17-20
Verse 2 continues…
Come ye weary heavy-laden
Lost and ruined by the fall
If you wait until you’re better
You will never come at all
That last verse is one of my favorites. That is truth wrapped in poetry! Now this new version of the song adds a bridge that comes again comes from the words of Jesus…
Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” -Luke 9:62
There’s no one else for me
No one else for me
I won’t look back
I won’t look back
This song is a call that’s more than 200 years old because it’s the call of Jesus himself. He didn’t come for the righteous. He came for the sick and sinful.
He’s calling. Come…