Sunday, August 11, 2013

Come, Ye Sinners

Here is another hymn for those who are struggling from day to day!

Title: Come Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy

Tune: Arise/Restoration (published in Southern Harmonies as “Restoration,” but is also known as “Arise”)


Author: Joseph Hart (1712-1768)

Composer: Anonymous, found in William Walker's (6th May, 1909-24th September, 1875) Southern Harmonies (1835), see “What Wondrous Love is This”

          This hymn is another that comes with an interesting history for the tune, but the text does not have much of a story. The text to “Come Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy,” was first published in Joseph Hart's Collection Hymns Composed on Various Subjects (1759, no. 118). The original text was published with seven stanza's of six lines each, but over time and with too many variations to count, the text has taken on a completely different form. In some hymnals (The Baptist Praise Book, New York, 1871, Canterbury Hymnal, 1863, Book of Hymns, 1846, and Church Hymn Book, 1872), the first line has been changed to several different variations, and in other hymnals (as is most commonly found today), the last two lines from each stanza have been omitted. The last two lines read “He is able, he is able, He is willing; doubt no more,” and have been taken out because they seem to have a redundancy with the rest of the text. Though there is reason to take out the last two lines, some believe that the lines are important, and thus a controversy has started over which text is the most correct ( , “Text”, par. 2).

          John Hart did not have much record of his early life. He lived mostly in obscurity, and what we do know of him comes from his own account. Hart lead a life that was marked by “loose conduct, serious conviction of sin, and endeavors after amendment of life” (, par. 1). It was not until 1757 that Hart would begin to turn his life around, a change that he attributes to his attendance to divine services at a Moravian church in Fetter Lane, London. During the next two years, Hart would compose some of his best hymns, and he eventually published them in his collection Hymns Composed on Various Subjects, With the Author's Experience (London, 1759), which included a short preface with notes on Hart's early life. Eventually, Hart would publish a Supplement to the hymnal in 1762, and in 1765, Hart published an Appendix to accompany the hymns. Later, all three books were published together as one collection titled Hymns Composed on Various Subjects, With the Author's Experience, The supplement and Appendix, by the Rev. Joseph Hart, Late Minister of the Gospel in Jewin Street, London (no date was given). At the time of Hart's death, many of his hymns were being used by the Calvinistic Nonconformists.

          The tune “Arise,” or also known as “Restoration,” was first published in William Walker's collection, Southern Harmonies (1835), where it was originally titled “Restoration,” but was eventually changed to “Arise.” Walker is known for being a collector of Folk tunes from around the different parts of the Shenandoah region, and most of the south-east part of the United States. Southern Harmonies is a collection of several hymns that were used for church services, but also for a text book in learning how to sing. All of the hymns in the collection are written in “shape note” notation. Shape note notation is a very early style of musical notation that was based off the Elizabethan form of Solmization (Eskew, Southern Harmonies, par. 2). The notations would show one of four shapes for each of the given notes in a major scale. As opposed to modern solfege (Do, Re, Me, Fa, Sol, La, Ti, Do), the Elizabethan form of Solmization would look more like Fa, Sol, La, Fa, So, La, Mi, Fa. Walker’s collection, besides being an instructional book on singing, helped to provide music for hymns that may have been published in a words-only hymnal. Many congregations were using words-only hymnals that were pocket sized, and contained no music, only the name of tunes as well as the text for each hymn. Southern Harmonies is credited with having published the first appearance of the hymn “Amazing Grace” with the tune we most commonly know it by today, “New Britain.” Though the text for “Amazing Grace” had been paired with other tunes, and the tune “New Britain” had been paired with other texts, the two had never been paired together, prior to Walker's hymnal.

The Text:

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.

I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
O there are ten thousand charms.

2 Come, ye thirsty, come and welcome,
God's free bounty glorify;
True belief and true repentance,
Ev'ry grace that brings you nigh.

3 Come ye weary, heavy laden,
Lost and ruined by the fall;
If you tarry till you're better,
You will never come at all.

4 Let not conscience make you linger,
Nor of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him.

My Take on the Hymn:

          Based off of the text from Matthew 11: 25-30, this hymn is quickly becoming one of my favorites. The text from the bible tells us that we only need to trust in God, and that all of us who are weary should come to God and place our burdens on Him. The text of this hymn helps to remind us that we can't do this on our own. The third stanza admits that everyone is lost because of the fall (Adam and Eve from Genesis, eating the forbidden fruit), and that if we try to figure out our problems all by ourselves, we will never fully come to God. The fourth stanza provides a nice cap to the hymn by saying “All the fitness He requireth; Is to feel your need of Him.” God does not require anything from us except that we admit that he is our God, and that we need Him each and every day of our lives. God taking our strife away from us is a part of God's gift of grace. Grace is something that I will never fully understand, and that I have never been good at accepting it without question, but the only thing God requires of us, is our full devotion to Him. If we but trust in God, our days will be rewarded with life eternal by God's side!

The Hymn:

If you cannot read music, just start the Youtube video and follow along!


De Jong, Laura. "Come, Ye Sinners." Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, n.d. Web. 30 July 2013.

Julian, John. "J. Hart." - Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, n.d. Web. 30 July 2013.

Julian, John. "RESTORATION." Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, n.d. Web. 30 July 2013.

Anonymous. "William Walker." - Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, n.d. Web. 30 July 2013.

Eskew, Harry. "Southern Harmony -- Intro." Southern Harmony -- Intro. Journal of the South Carolina Baptist Historical Society, n.d. Web. 30 July 2013.

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