One of my favorite hymns is Come, ye sinners, poor and needy. I sometimes get some flak for selecting it because people see it as a “downer,” but I’ll take this hymn over 90% of the praise music we sing. It also ranks up there with some of the great theological hymns of the faith like A mighty fortress and How firm a foundation in terms of my fondness for it. The hymn is a stark reminder we are sinners and must trust in the bounty of God in order to be relieved of our burden. In the refrain worshippers get to declare, “I will arise and go to Jesus, He will embrace me in his arms.” There is something absolutely beautiful about being reminded of sinners running to the savior, instead of away – and also with re-inserting ourselves into the place of “sinner,” which we too easily forget as we become “respectable.”
I often like to look at older versions of my favorite hymns, in order to see what verses have been dropped out, or what language may have been changed over the years or through translation. Oddly enough, I’d never done this for Come, ye sinners, poor and needy until this morning. I found two verses which our hymnal doesn’t contain, the first of which strikes my heart to the core.
View Him prostrate in the garden;
On the ground your Maker lies;
On the bloody tree behold Him;
Sinner, will this not suffice?
In those words I can hear the voice of God. Too often we treat grace like a cheap commodity. We “get saved” like we’re subscribing for a magazine subscription. I think folks who are outside the faith take notice of how cheaply we treat grace, and how quickly we forgive our own sins while condemning others, and come to the conclusion the faith is of little actually worth in our hearts and in the world. In the above verse I hear the voice of God reminding us of how precious the price was which purchased us from sin and death. God speaks, “Sinner, will this not suffice to release you from brokenness, pain, and despair? Will this not suffice to quench your thirst for righteousness and your longing for love?” And in response to that glorious question worshippers are privileged to respond, “I will arise and go to Jesus, He will embrace me in his arms.”