534. Come, You Sinners, Poor and Needy

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1 Come, you sinners, poor and needy,
weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
full of pity, love, and power.

2 Let not conscience make you linger,
nor of fitness fondly dream;
all that he requires as fitness
is to know your need of him.

3 Come, you weary, heavy laden,
lost and ruined by the fall;
if you tarry till you're better,
you will never come at all.

4 Come, arise, and go to Jesus,
he will take you in his arms;
in the love of your dear Savior
you are safe from all alarms.

Text Information
First Line: Come, you sinners, poor and needy
Title: Come, You Sinners, Poor and Needy
Author: Joseph Hart (1759, alt.)
Publication Date: 1987
Meter: 87 87
Scripture: Matthew 9:13; Matthew 9
Topic: Invitation; Church and Mission; Missions
Language: English
Tune Information
Meter: 87 87
Key: f minor

Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 1 = Matt. 9:13
st. 3 = Matt. 11:28
st. 4 = Luke 15:11-32

In this invitation hymn, "poor and needy" sinners are welcomed to "arise and go to Jesus." The final stanza alludes to Christ's parable of the prodigal son who returns to his loving father's arms.

The hymn has autobiographical overtones. Raised in a Christian home, Joseph Hart (b. London, England, 1712; d. London, 1768) left the faith and for a time lived a life he described as "carnal and spiritual wickedness, irreligious and profane." He was converted in 1757 at a Moravian chapel in London. From 1759 until his death he served as pastor of the independent chapel on Jewin Street, London, where he preached staunchly Calvinistic sermons to large crowds. Hart's approximately two hundred hymns were published as Hymns composed on Various Subjects (1759, with supplements, 1762, 1765); for a time his hymns were as popular as those of Isaac Watts (PHH 155).

Originally in seven, six-line stanzas, this hymn from his 1759 collection was entitled "Come, and Welcome, to Jesus Christ," beginning with the words, "Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched." Stanzas 1-3 are made up of various lines from the original stanzas 1, 3, and 4. The fourth stanza is taken from the refrain of an anonymous ballad about the prodigal son that appeared in several nineteenth-century American songbooks. Beginning with the words, "Far, far away from my loving Father," the ballad had as its refrain, "I will arise and go to Jesus." Philip P. Bliss (PHH 482) added that refrain line to Hart's text and set the entire text to the tune ARISE in his Gospel Songs (1874).

Liturgical Use:
As an invitation hymn in evangelistic services, possibly with altar calls or with the Lord's Supper; useful in the service of confession/forgiveness.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

ARISE is an anonymous American folk melody. Set to "Mercy, O Thou Son of David," the tune was published in William Walker's (PHH 44) Southern Harmony (1835) with the title RESTORATION. Its name was changed to ARISE (after the refrain in the ballad about the prodigal son) when it was set to Hart's text.

Like many folk tunes, ARISE is pentatonic and could be sung in two-part canon (at one measure), but then the accompaniment should not be used. Sing in unison on stanza 1, with the choir in canon on stanza 2. Try having the entire group sing in harmony on stanzas 3 and 4. When singing and accompanying, be sure to retain the sturdiness of this folk melody.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

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