I had never heard this hymn until our community choir performed last year’s Easter Cantata. We only sang part of it.

A few weeks ago, when I was looking through an old hymnal, I saw it. Thinking it kind of fits with our current subject matter, I decided to learn more about it. Most of what I found comes from hymnary.org. It’s a great place to find a lot of information about old hymns.

The short story is the hymn was written by Joseph Hart (1712-1768), sometime around 1759. His early life is described as “obscure”, but “In 1757, after living a life he described as ‘carnal and spiritual wickedness, irreligious and profane,’ Joseph Hart turned to Christ (Psalter Hymnal Handbook)”

The rest of the story is the song was published in 1239 hymnals. At first, I feared there might be 1239 versions of the hymn

In the first column below is the version that usually shows up when you do a search. It is the one I found at cyberhymnal.com, The second one is from Hymnary.org, and may actually be closer to what Joseph Hart wrote.  Hymnary.org also says that Hart’s original lyrics had “seven stanzas of six lines each.” It goes on to discuss different changes until there were 20 different versions. No, it isn’t 1239, but I think it’s still 19 too many.

1.Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love and pow’r.

    • Refrain:
      I will arise and go to Jesus,
      He will embrace me in His arms;
      In the arms of my dear Savior,
      Oh, there are ten thousand charms.
  1. Come, ye thirsty, come, and welcome,
    God’s free bounty glorify;
    True belief and true repentance,
    Every grace that brings you nigh.
  2. Come, ye weary, heavy-laden,
    Lost and ruined by the fall;
    If you tarry till you’re better,
    You will never come at all.
  3. View Him prostrate in the garden;
    On the ground your Maker lies;
    On the bloody tree behold Him;
    Sinner, will this not suffice?
  4. Lo! th’ incarnate God ascended,
    Pleads the merit of His blood:
    Venture on Him, venture wholly,
    Let no other trust intrude.
  5. Let not conscience make you linger,
    Not of fitness fondly dream;
    All the fitness He requireth
    Is to feel your need of Him.
1. Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore!
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love and power.
He is able, He is able, He is able,
He is willing, doubt no more!

2. Let not conscience let you linger,
Nor of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness he requireth
Is to feel your need of him.
This he gives you, This he gives you, This he gives you:
‘Tis the Spirit’s glimmering beam.

4. Come ye weary, heavy laden,
Bruised and mangled by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all.
Not the righteous, Not the righteous, Not the righteous;
Sinners Jesus came to call.

5. Agonizing in the garden,
Lo! your Maker prostrate lies!
On the bloody tree behold Him:
Hear Him cry, before He dies:
“It is finished!” “It is finished!” “It is finished!”
Sinner, will this not suffice?

6. Lo! The incarnate God ascending,
Pleads the merit of His blood;
Venture on Him, venture freely;
Let no other trust intrude.
None but Jesus, None but Jesus, None but Jesus
Can do helpless sinners good.

Once we decide on which lyrics to use, then we can disucss the tune. Hymnary.org lists 34 different tunes used with this song. Some of the tunes are used for several other songs as well. The top three for Come Ye Sinners are “Come Ye Sinners” composed by Jeremiah Ingalls (used in 53 hymnals), “Arise” aka “Restoration” composer unknown (used in 72 hymnals), and Greenville composed by Jean-Jaques Rousseau (used in 120) hymnals.

The tune “Restoration” was the one used in our cantata.

I’ve told you before that I inherited my grandpa’s books, but I also got my grandma’s sheet music. She was an extraordinary pianist, and her collection of music included several hymnals. Of the ten I looked at, four didn’t have “Come Ye Sinners” at all, the other six that did were all different from each other, although two did have the “Restoration”tune.

After you get through all the different versions of the lyrics, and all the different tunes, the message is still the same: Sinners need Jesus to save them.  That is the important thing.

Here is a YouTube video uploaded by Dave Hunt. It uses the popular lyrics and the arrangement is based on the “Restoration” tune. It is performed by Fernando Ortega and Amy Grant. I like it.

See you in church!

Connie

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