I want to introduce the words of this hymn, which we sang this morning, to any readers who may not be familiar with it. The lyrics are by Samuel J. Stone, who also wrote the words to "The Church's One Foundation." I've put in brackets the verses that don't appear in our hymnal at church; it's pretty long, and I think cutting a couple of verses was a good idea. Also, the words to the final verse don't seem to have the same poetic stresses as the words in the other verses, which would make that verse hard to set to music.
The present tune is very repetitive and dull, and I think it would be wonderful if one of our talented modern hymn writers got inspired and wrote a new, singable, tune to this biblical hymn:
Weary of earth, and laden with my sin,
I look at Heav’n and long to enter in,
But there no evil thing may find a home:
And yet I hear a voice that bids me “Come.”
[So vile I am, how dare I hope to stand
In the pure glory of that holy land?
Before the whiteness of that throne appear?
Yet there are hands stretched out to draw me near.]
The while I fain would tread the heav’nly way
Evil is ever with me day by day;
Yet on mine ears the gracious tidings fall:
“Repent, confess, thou shalt be loosed from all.”
It is the voice of Jesus that I hear;
His are the hands stretched out to draw me near,
And His the blood that can for all atone,
And set me faultless there before the throne.
’Twas He Who found me on the deathly wild,
And made me heir of Heav’n, the Father’s child,
And day by day, whereby my soul may live,
Gives me His grace of pardon, and will give.
O great Absolver, grant my soul may wear
The lowliest garb of penitence and prayer,
That in the Father’s courts my glorious dress
May be the garment of Thy righteousness.
Yea, Thou wilt answer for me, righteous Lord;
Thine all the merits, mine the great reward;
Thine the sharp thorns, and mine the golden crown;
Mine the life won, and Thine the life laid down.
[Naught can I bring, dear Lord, for all I owe,
Yet let my full heart what it can bestow;
Like Mary’s gift, let my devotion prove,
Forgiven greatly, how greatly I love.]
According to the Cyberhymnal, Stone said, "Of all my hymns [this] one…is the most dear to me because of the letters I have received from or about persons to whose joy and peace and believing it has been permitted to be instrumental."
Notice the emphasis on the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ as our "wedding garment" (2 Corinthians 5:21, Matthew 22) and on Jesus' substitutionary atonement.
Great hymn words.