In 1828, at the age of 32, Charlotte Elliott suffered a serious illness that left her a semi-invalid. This caused depression, and within the year she experienced a severe spiritual crisis. Swiss evangelist Henry A. Cesàr Malan was visiting her family, and she confessed to him that she didn’t know how to come to Christ. His famous response was, “Come to him just as you are.” Her depression continued, however. One night, twelve years later, she lay awake, distressed by her uselessness as an invalid, and by doubts of her spiritual life. The next day, as she reflected on the previous night, she decided she needed to meet her spiritual troubles head on and conquer them by the grace of God. So she “gathered up in her soul the grand certainties, not of her emotions, but of her salvation: her Lord, His power, His promise” (Lutheran Hymnal Handbook). She took up pen and paper, and wrote down her own “formulae of faith,” remembering those words of the visiting evangelist. In the end she had the text “Just as I am, without one plea.” Her rule of faith has since become a comfort to millions, and we join with all Christians who experience doubt and uncertainty in their faith when we declare that Christ invites us to come to Him, just as we are.Author
Elliott, Charlotte, daughter of Charles Elliott, of Clapham and Brighton, and granddaughter of the Rev. H. Venn, of Huddersfield, was born March 18, 1789. The first 32 years of her life were spent mostly at Clapham. In 1823 she removed to Brighton, and died there Sept. 22, 1871. To her acquaintance with Dr. C. Malan, of Geneva, is attributed much of the deep spiritual-mindedness which is so prominent in her hymns. Though weak and feeble in body, she possessed a strong imagination, and a well-cultured and intellectual mind. Her love of poetry and music was great, and is reflected in her verse. Her hymns number about 150, a large percentage of which are in common use. The finest and most widely known of these are, "Just as I am” and "My God, my Father, while I stray." Her verse is characterized by tenderness of feeling, plaintive simplicity, deep devotion, and perfect rhythm. For those in sickness and sorrow she has sung as few others have done.
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