Just As I am – without one plea, But that Thy blood was shed for me, And that Thous bidst me come to Thee, O Lamb of God, I come, I come!
The above verse is the first stanza from the well known hymn written by Charlotte Elliott in 1835 titled, Just As I Am.
For over 175 years this Hymn has been heard in palaces, castles, cabins and huts. It has been played on pianos, pipe organs, guitars, symphonic instruments, and harmonicas. And its words have touched the rich and poor, the young and old, and the healthy, sick, and dying.
This lyrical message has spanned the globe for almost two centuries and continues to serve as the most selected piece of music played during the invitation to received Christ throughout the world today.
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!
So how does one pen such work? From a life of ease and comfort? Not usually. Words with such depth often come from a well of struggle and in Charlotte’s case this proved to be so.
Charlotte Elliott, daughter of silk merchant Charles Elliott, was born on March 18, 1789 in Clapham, Surrey, England. She, along with five siblings, was raised in prominence, wealth, culture, education, and evangelical beliefs.
Charlotte and her family were members of the Church of England where her two brothers served as clergy and her grandfather, Rev. Henry Venn (her mother’s father), was an evangelical minister and founder and head of a small group within the Anglican Church called the Clapham Sect. Rev. Venn worked closely with John and Charles Wesley and among his church members was the reformer William Wilberforce. In remembering history, it is safe to say that Charlotte was exposed and surrounded by the influential evangelicals of her day and this no doubt played an important role in shaping her christian beliefs.
Though Charlotte lived a monetary lifestyle of privilege, ease, and exposure to the religious influential, not all was of comfort for her. She was described as being weak, feeble bodied and suffered from crippling pain. Sadly by the age of 32 Charlotte’s infirmity had completely render her a bed-ridden invalid.
Just as I am though toss’d about, with many a conflict many a doubt, Fightings and fears within, without, O Lamb of God, I come, I come!
Though Charlotte’s body was weak, feeble and riddled with pain, she possessed a strong imagination and a well-cultured and intellectual mind. Her disabling condition caused deep sensitivity toward those in sickness and sorrow and in her desires to offer comfort, Charlotte began writing poems and hymns to encourage those that suffered as she did.
About her condition Charlotte wrote;
My Heavenly Father knows, and He alone, what it is, day after day, and hour after hour, to fight against bodily feelings of almost overpowering weakness and languor and exhaustion, to resolve, as He enables me to do, not to yield to the slothfulness, the depression, the irritability, such as a body causes me to long to indulge, but to rise every morning determined on taking this for my motto, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.”
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!
In 1834, Charlotte, along with Miss Kiernan (also an invalid) of Dublin, published the Invalid’s Hymn Book featuring 32 hymns. Many editions were published and after Miss Kiernan’s death, Charlotte took on the editorship and by the sixth edition she had included 112 of her hymns. Altogether Charlotte wrote 150 hymns.
Just as I am – Thou wilt receive, Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve; Because Thy promise I believe,-O Lamb of God, I come, I come!
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!
In my research I discovered that there are two accounts that attribute to the inspiration of Just As I Am. Which one is factual we may never know, after all some things do not endure the test of time. Therefore I will offer the reference link (contains both accounts) at the end of the post for those who are interested. Merit is to be found in both.
Other works of Charlotte’s are;
- The Invalid’s Hymn Book, 1834
- Psalms and Hymns for Public, Private, and Social Worship, 1835-48; edited by her brother Henry
- Hours of Sorrow, 1836
- Hymns for a Week, 1839
- Thoughts in Verse on Sacred Subjects, 1869
Charlotte Elliott died on September 22, 1871 at the age of 82. Following her death more than a thousand thank you letters were found among her papers from those who had been deeply touched by Just As I Am. If I could, I would add mine to the lot.
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!
Here are the two accounts behind the inspiration of, Just As I Am reference: Stem’s Publishing