A few weeks ago, our church choir sang a song that stayed in my head for days. Granted, I pick what they sing, and it’s a song I’ve loved for a long time, but since it came back to memory I wanted to share it here. Listening to our choir sing  was beautiful–the tune (RESTORATION) was from William Walker’s old Southern Harmony, arranged by Dwight Gustafson with a haunting  countermelody. But the words made me choose the piece.

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

Refrain:

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.

Come, ye thirsty, come, and welcome,
God’s free bounty glorify;
True belief and true repentance,
Every grace that brings you nigh.

Refrain

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

Refrain

Lo! th’incarnate God, ascended,
Pleads the merit of His blood:
Venture on Him, venture wholly,
Let no other trust intrude.

Some songs that we think of as belonging (broadly) to the  “Appalachian” category are theologically pretty basic, or vague, or even confusing. Some of them, though, are rich in their clarity and Scriptural faithfulness. The text “Come, Ye Sinners” was written by Joseph Hart (18th century) and is crammed with good stuff.

I love how the refrain alludes to the story of the prodigal son(s), when the son who ran off says to himself,

I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.’ And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion…”

I love how the song reminds us that there is joy in restored fellowship with God, that repentance and belief in Christ are gifts from Him, that we will never make ourselves fit to come to God–because Jesus died while we were still warring against Him. I love to sing, in the last verse, about the sufficiency of Christ’s blood to cover my sin and the uselessness of bringing anything else to the table.

I hope to teach this to our congregation sometime this next year. And as much as I like the RESTORATION tune, I really like BEACH SPRING, too. Either way, I’ve enjoyed having it stuck in my head. Hope it’s an encouragement to you, too.

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