Sunday, July 21, 2019

Ten thousand charms

Joseph Hart (1712-1768), independent evangelical minister and hymn writer, is well known is some small circles, and not well known among the general confluence of Christianity. Peter C. Rae has an article on “Joseph Hart and His Hymns” in the Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology. His analyses is that Hart “has regrettably passed into obscurity.” Sad, if that is so, for his hymns are full of grace, passion, and Christian experience. Most of Hart’s hymns are reprinted in William Gadsby’s A Selection of Hymns for Public Worship.

The hymn below is one of Hart’s most widely known. It first appeared in 1759 in his Hymns Composed on Various Subjects. The hymn likely is a vehicle for Hart’s own spiritual journey. It is hymn number 100, “Come, and welcome, to Jesus Christ.” Several verses of Scripture hearken unto us through it, including Isaiah 55:1, Matthew 11:28, John 19:30.

The hymn as printed in extant versions of Hymns Composed on Various Subjects is meter. The fifth line of the original has a triple repetition (e.g. He is able, he is able, he is able) rather than the duple repetition found in most modern versions. Sung versions of “Come, ye sinners” usually present as 8s.7s. meter (the last two lines being repeated, or a chorus added).

1. Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, join’d with pow’r.
He is able, he is able;
He is willing, doubt no more.

2. Ho! ye needy, come, and welcome,
God’s free bounty glorify;
True belief and true repentance,
Ev’ry grace that brings us nigh.
Without money, without money;
Come to Jesus Christ and buy.

3. Let not conscience make you linger,
Not of fitness fondly dream:
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him.
This he gives you, this he gives you;
’Tis the Spirit’s rising beam.

4. Come, ye weary, heavy-laden,
Bruis’d and mangled by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all.
Not the righteous, not the righteous
Sinners Jesus came to call.

5. View him grov’ling in the garden;
Lo! your Maker prostrate lies.
On the bloody tree behold Him:
Here him cry before he dies,
It is finish’d, it is finish’d!
Sinner, will not this suffice?

6. Lo! th’incarnate God ascended,
Pleads the merit of His blood.
Venture on Him, venture wholly,
Let no other trust intrude.
None but Jesus, none but Jesus,
Can do helpless sinners good.

7. Saints and angels, join’d in concert,
Sing the praises of the Lamb;
While the blissful seat of heav’n
Sweetly echo with his name.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Sinners here may sing the same.

In the tune Restoration (Sacred Harp, No.  268a) [i] the first four lines have an 8s.7s. stanza (by deleting Hart’s last two lines) with an added chorus or refrain.

I will rise and go to Jesus,
He’ll embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
O! there are ten thousand charms.[ii]

Jesus is Willing/Beach Spring (Sacred Harp, No. 81), on the other hand, repeats Hart’s last two lines.

[i] The Sacred Harp versions of Restoration actually use Robert Robinson’s text plus the chorus, rather than Hart’s, but represents the tune widely used with “Come, ye sinners.” Favorite Songs and Hymns, which we used to sing from, has this tune with Hart’s text.
[ii] Some people object to the use of the word “charms,” apparently because it can have an occult-type context. In the chorus, though, it just means something powerful and attractive, which delights and subdues the heart. I am not aware of the source of the chorus, but it is not by Joseph Hart.

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