Just As I Am

In 1934, a 16 year old boy was saved while attending a revival meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina. Mordecai Ham was the preacher and the hymn played during  the altar call was—Just As I Am. Eventually, this young man, Billy Graham became a world famous evangelist who ministered to over “2.5 billion listeners”.  The model of his sermons, followed by a request for those in attendance to “come forward”—was first used effectively (while ministering to very large groups) by Rev. D.L. Moody.

William Franklin “Billy” Graham, Jr., was born November 7, 1918 (and died on February 21, 2018). “It is said that Graham has preached the Gospel in person to more people than any other person in history.” The hymn, Just As I Am, is (was) always played during his altar calls.”

Just as I am—Gaither Music TV

JUST AS I AM—THE HYMN & ITS ORIGIN

The Author: Charlotte Elliott.—1789-1871.

“Miss Elliott is the greatest of English female hymn-writers. Though she wrote no single poem which has attained the celebrity of Mrs. Adams’ “Nearer my God to Thee“;— the number and quality of her compositions advance her to the chief place.

Miss Elliott lived to be eighty-two years of age. For the greater part of her life she was an invalid. This fact appears in the title of her principal publication, “The Invalid’s Hymn-Book.”

She was born in Brighton, England, where most of her life was spent, though she resided for fourteen years on the Continent. There are no incidents of special importance to record in connection with her career. She lived very quietly with certain members of her family, passing her time in religious and literary employments.

Miss Elliott wrote the greatest evangelistic hymn in the language. Not only has it never been displaced by subsequent compositions, but it has never been fairly rivaled. Notwithstanding the multiplication of similar songs, particularly in connection with recent evangelism, this hymn continues to hold its high place; and many a time, at the very climax of the revival, the revivalist has turned from modern “Gospel Songs,” or other expressions of the penitent soul, to this wonderful hymn for his supreme argument and invitation.

Like other similar outbursts of emotion, this hymn has its history. We quote it from Robinson’s “Annotations”:

“The story has been told over and over, and yet it will never appear old, of the way in which this hymn of Miss Charlotte Elliott came to be written. In 1822 Dr. Caesar Malan, of Ge leva, was visiting at the house of this young woman’s father. One evening, as they sat conversing, he asked her if she thought herself to be an experimental Christian. Her health was failing then rapidly, and she was harassed often with pain; the question made her petulant for the moment. She resented his searching, and told him that religion was a matter which she did not wish to discuss. Dr. Malan replied, with his usual sweetness of manner, that he would not pursue the subject then if it displeased her, but he would pray that she might “give her heart to Christ, and become a useful worker for him.”

Several days afterward the young lady apologized for her abrupt treatment of the minister, and confessed that his question and his parting remark had troubled her. ‘But I do not know how to find Christ,’ she said; ‘I want you to help me.’ ‘Come to him just as you are,’ said Dr. Malan. He little thought that one day that simple reply would be repeated in song by the whole Christian world. Further advice -resulted in opening the young lady’s mind to spiritual light, and her life of devout activity and faith began.

She possessed literary gifts, and having assumed the charge of The Yearly Remembrancer on the death of its editor, she inserted several original poems (without her name) in making up her first number. One of the poems was “Just As I Am,” 1836. The words of pastor Malan, realized in her own experience, were, of course, the writer’s inspiration. Beginning thus its public history in the columns of an unpretending religious magazine, the little anonymous hymn, with its sweet counsel to troubled minds, found its way into devout persons’ scrap-books, then into religious circles and chapel assemblies, and finally into the hymnals of the Church universal.

Some time after its publication a philanthropic lady, struck by its beauty and spiritual value, had it printed on a leaflet and sent for circulation through the cities and towns of the kingdom, and in connection with this an incident at an English watering-place seems to have first revealed its authorship to the world. Miss Elliott, being in feeble health, was staying at Torquay, in Devonshire, under the care of an eminent physician. One day the doctor, who was an earnest Christian man, placed one of those floating leaflets in his patient’s hands, saying he felt sure she would like it. The surprise and pleasure were mutual when she recognized her own hymn and he discovered that she was its author.”

The following is the hymn:

“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!

“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!

“Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings within, and fears without,
O Lamb of God, I come!

“Just as I am—thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come!

“Just as I am—thy love unknown
Hath broken every barrier down;
Now, to be thine, yea, thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I comel”

Could there be anything more completely evangelical than this? more faithfully, or more simply expressing the method of saving grace? It is the very epitome of the Gospel. The “sacrificial Lamb of God,” His “shed blood,” His “promise,” and His “love” are all brought into sweetest and strongest association. The hindrances of the sinner, his guilt, doubt, conflicts, and procrastination are all met.

The full work of the Saviour to welcome, forgive, sanctify, and comfort is exhibited. The boundless love on the one side and the full surrender on the other are set forth. In short, it is almost marvelous that so much can be contained in five short verses. In addition to all this, the rhythm is perfect, the poetical elements genuine, and the lyrical qualities unsurpassed.”

She wrote in all about one hundred and fifty hymns.

Source: The History And Use Of Hymns And Hymn-Tunes: by the Rev. David R. Breed; 1903. Jesus Saves!