Just As I Am

Our commissioning hymn this second Sunday of Lent is the well-known “Just As I Am” written by Charlotte Elliott in 1835. In one sitting she wrote what she felt is the Gospel of pardon, peace and heaven.

Since then, countless generations have come to Christ at altar calls while hearing “Just As I Am” being sung by choirs great and small.

Perhaps the most well known use of this hymn has been by the Billy Graham Crusades.  Graham, who died this week, once wrote that this hymn presents “the strongest possible Biblical basis for the call of Christ.”[1]

Of the many aspects of Miss Elliott’s life, perhaps the following best represents her personal faith journey. Charlotte grew up in an atmosphere of refinement and was highly educated, with a passion for music and was quite gifted as a portrait artist. Yet she surrounded herself with a mantle of self-doubt about her own spiritual worthiness after a severe illness. A visitor, Rev. Malan of Geneva, asked her if she was at peace with God, but she was annoyed by the question and refused to answer. A few days later she apologized and said she needed first to clean up her life. Rev. Malan is purported to have then said, “Come just as you are.”

In a later letter he wrote, “Dear Charlotte, cut the cable, it will take too long to unloose it; cut it, it is a small loss; the wind blows and the ocean is before you, – the Spirit of God and eternity”.

[1] Crusader Hymns & Hymn Stories, p. 33.