I hear thy welcome voice


Lyrics and Music: Lewis Hartsough – 1828-1919

I hear thy welcome voice
that calls me, Lord, to thee,
for cleansing in thy precious blood
that flowed on Calvary.

Refrain:
I am coming Lord!
Coming now to thee!
Wash me, cleanse me in the blood
that flowed on Calvary!

Though coming weak and vile,
thou dost my strength assure;
thou dost my vileness fully cleanse,
till spotless all, and pure. Refrain

‘Tis Jesus calls me on
to perfect faith and love,
to perfect hope and peace and trust,
for earth and heav’n above. Refrain

‘Tis Jesus who confirms
the blessèd work within,
by adding grace to welcomed grace,
where reigned the power of sin. Refrain

And he the witness gives
to loyal hearts and free
that every promise is fulfilled,
if faith but brings the plea Refrain

All hail! atoning blood!
All hail! redeeming grace!
All hail! the gift of Christ our Lord,
our Strength and Righteousness.

What a beautiful melody this hymn has. I particularly like the refrain which ends with the words “Wash me, cleanse me in the blood that flowed from Calvary”.

The words and music of this beautiful hymn were written by Hart­sough at a re­viv­al meet­ing in Ep­worth, Io­wa and a copy was sent to England in 1873. Ira Sankey took it and it proved to be one of the most helpful of the revival hymns, and was often used as an invitation hymn in England and America.

Hartsough graduated from the Cazenovia Seminary in 1852, was ordained a Methodist minister in 1853, and joined the Oneida Conference in New York. Around 1868, he moved west for health reasons, becoming superintendent of the Utah Mission, then presiding elder of the Wyoming District. About the same time, he served as musical editor for Joseph Hillman’s Revivalist. In 1871, Hartsough became pastor of the Methodist church in Epworth, Iowa. In 1874, he transferred to the Northwest Iowa Conference. He retired in 1895.

A story is told of how this song saved a businessman who had not been to church for about twenty years. Not too long after this hymn was written, a large congregation was heard singing this hymn in Washington. A businessman who had never attended church for twenty years was passing by and heard the hymn. He stopped to listen.  All members of the congregation were standing while singing this hymn and many were people were going forward to the alter for repentance and prayer. Stanza after stanza of this hymn was sung, with increasing interest.

The Holy Spirit so pressed the Lord’s claims that the businessman yielded and joined the people that were repenting. He was instantly converted and this hymn became his favourite.He sang it in his home, on the street, and in his shop. It seemed a special inspiration to him from the day he got saved.

One morning, just about two weeks after his conversion, as he started for his shop, his wife, accompanied him to the door to say good-bye. She heard him joyfully begin to sing “I am coming, Lord, to Thee,” and he left his house for the usual normal work at his shop. The man went into the street while his wife watched him disappear into the street and finally returned back into the house to her room.

A few moments later the door-bell rang. She answered it in person, only to find that people were carrying home her husband’s dead body. He had slipped on the icy pavement and was instantly killed. The memory of those last words of the hymn that fell upon her ears, as he triumphantly sang “Iam coming, Lord, to Thee,” was to her a lasting comfort.

Another story is told by an English evangelist who was holding meetings at Eastbourn. It is said a man by the name of David was converted in one of those meetings. His very wicked workmate, whose name was Stephen, noticed the change in him the next day, and asked David what had caused it. David boldly confessed that he had found the Saviour at the Mission, and expressed a wish that Stephen would accompany him there next Sunday to which he finally agreed.

An Evangelist recalls: “As we began the service on Sunday evening, I gave out the hymn, ‘I hear Thy welcome Voice.’ During the singing I noticed that the Spirit had touched a man who was sitting on the first form under the platform. After a short comment on the verses, I said: ‘We will have the prayer meeting at once,’ and in another minute I was down by the side of Stephen–for it was he–and with my arm around his neck I said to him: ‘The Lord is speaking to you, is he not?’

“After the meeting Stephen testified that he had been able to knock down two men in a fight, but that he never was so knocked down in all his life as when he felt my arm around his neck. Stephen became a brave and true follower of CHRIST. He brought his wife to church, and though at first she had ridiculed her husband, she, too, soon gave heed to the ‘welcome voice.’”

Comments about the lyrics:

1. When a person comes to Jesus in response to the gospel, they are responding to the call of the Lord. They will receive wonderful blessings in Christ. This is what we see in this familiar song that describes these truths “I Am Coming, Lord”. Both the words and tune were by Lewis Hartsough (1828-1919). It is frequently used as an invitation song following many sermons.

Let us consider the call of the gospel and the blessings enjoyed by those who come to the Lord from the words of this song as found in many hymnals. let’s consider

I. FIRST VERSE:
A. THE WORDS OF THE SONG…
I hear Thy welcome voice, That calls me, Lord, to Thee,
      For cleansing in Thy precious blood
      That flowed on Calvary.

B. REFLECTING ON THE WORDS…

  • The first verse reminds us that God calls us, through the gospel – 2Th 2:14; Mk 16:15-16
  • The gospel calls us to benefit from the sacrifice of Christ for our sins – 1Co 15:1-3
  • Chief among those blessings is the remission of sins through His blood – Ep 1:7

Have you heard the voice of the Lord calling you through His gospel…?

II. SECOND VERSE
A. THE WORDS OF THE SONG…
Though coming weak and vile,
Thou dost my strength assure;
Thou doest my vileness fully cleanse,
Till spotless all and pure.

B. REFLECTING ON THE WORDS…

  • The second verse tells us that we come to Jesus as we are (weak  and sinful) – cf. Lk 5:27-32; 19:10
  • Blessings in Christ described are twofold:  strength and  cleansing – Jn 8:34-36; Php 4:13
  • Jesus offers freedom from both the guilt of sin and the bondage of sin – Ro 8:1-2,12-13

Do not assume you must become righteous and strong before you can come to Jesus…!

III. THIRD VERSE

A. THE WORDS OF THE SONG…
‘Tis Jesus calls me on
To perfect faith and love;
To perfect hope, and peace and trust,
For earth and heaven above.

B. REFLECTING ON THE WORDS…

  • The third verse describes our growth in Christ after coming to the Lord – cf. 2Pe 3:18; 1:5-11
  • For we are not only to respond to His grace in conversion, but to bear fruit for God’s glory as well – Mt 28:19-20; Jn 15:8
  • Our service will be both on earth and in heaven above – cf. Re 2:25-27; 3:20-22; 22:1-5

Thus Jesus call us to grow in grace and service; will we respond to His call…?

IV. CHORUS
A. THE WORDS OF THE SONG…
I am coming, Lord!
Coming now to Thee!
Wash me, cleanse me in the blood
That flowed on Calvary!

B. REFLECTING ON THE WORDS…
1. The chorus expresses the appeal for cleansing one desires when  they respond to the gospel
2. The cleansing comes as one is baptized into Christ
a. For in baptism they are buried and crucified with Christ  – Ro 6:3-8
b. In which their sins are washed away by the blood of Christ  – cf. Ac 22:16
3. Thus baptism is for the remission of sins, and is an appeal for  a good conscience
a. As proclaimed by Peter on the day of Pentecost – Ac 2:38
b. As expounded by Peter in his first epistle – 1Pe 3:21
1. Have you heard the welcome voice of the Lord…?
a. You have if you’ve heard the gospel of Christ!
b. He is calling you even now!

2. Do you desire cleansing in the blood of Calvary?  Continued growth in  the grace of Christ…?
a. Come to the Lord in faith, repentance and baptism! – cf. Ac 2: 36-38
b. You will receive Christ into your life by putting Him on in baptism! – cf. Ga 3:27

Saved by grace through faith, you will then walk in good works ordained by God… – Ep 2:8-10

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