"I AM COMING, LORD"
"Unto Him that loves us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood…be glory…" (Rev. 1.5-6).
INTRO.: A hymn which emphasizes the fact that we must come to Jesus to be washed from our sins in His own blood is "I Am Coming, Lord" (#300 in Hymns for Worship Revised and #604 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written and the tune (Welcome Home) was composed both by Lewis Hartsough, who was born on Aug. 31, 1828, at Ithaca, NY. After graduating from Cazenovia Seminary in 1852, he became a Methodist minister the following year. For fifteen years, he served churches in the Oneida Conference of New York. However, he requested a transfer west because of health reasons, and was appointed to the Utah Mission. Later, he was sent to the Wyoming District and then spent two years at Epworth, IA.
This hymn was produced in 1872 when Hartsough was conducting a meeting with the church at Epworth. It first appeared in the 1872 edition of The Revivalist, a popular collection of evangelistic hymns and tunes compiled by Joseph Hillman which began in 1868 and went in 11 editions. Hartsough served as the musical editor. Apparently the song was published shortly afterward in a monthly magazine, The Guide to Holiness, because a copy of this magazine with the hymn was sent to England in 1873 for Ira David Sankey (1840-1908).
Sankey included it in his Gospel Hymns and Sacred Songs of 1875, which led to its widespread popularity. After his time in Epworth, Hartsough was transferred in 1874 to the Northwest Iowa Conference, which included the Dakotas. By his own record, he served fifteen churches in five districts, travelled about 400,000 miles, made 9,000 visits, led 7,000 prayer meetings, and preached 1,500 sermons in his work. Upon his retirement in 1895, he moved to Mt. Vernon, IA, where he died on Jan. 1, 1919.
Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song appeared in the 1921 Great Songs of the Church (No. 1) and the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 both edited by E. L. Jorgenson; the 1935 Christian Hymns (No. 1), the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2, and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 all edited by L. O. Sanderson; the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch; and the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater. Today it may be found in the 1971 Songs of the Church, the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed., and the 1994 Songs of Faith and Praise all edited by Alton H. Howard; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; in addition to Hymns for Worship, Sacred Selections, and the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat.
This song details some of the blessings in coming to Jesus.
I. The 1st stanza says that those who come to Jesus can have cleansing in His precious blood.
"I hear Thy welcome voice That calls me, Lord, to Thee,
For cleansing in Thy precious blood That flowed on Calvary."
A. We must hear the welcome voice of Jesus as He speaks to us through His word: Matt. 13.9
B. His voice calls us to come to Him: Matt. 11.28-30
C. While we must come and meet the Lord’s conditions, it is the blood of Christ that cleanses us from sin: 1 Jn. 1.7
II. The 2nd stanza says that those who come to Jesus can have their strength assured.
"Though coming weak and vile, Though dost my strength assure;
Thou dost my vileness fully cleanse, Till spotless all and pure."
A. When we come to Jesus for salvation, we are weak and vile as sinners: Rom. 5.8
B. However, Christ not only cleanses us but gives us the strength to fight the good fight against sin: Eph. 6.10
C. By His help, we can keep ourselves spotless all and pure: 2 Pet. 3.14
III. The 3rd stanza says that those who come to Jesus can have perfect faith, hope, and love
"’Tis Jesus calls me on To perfect faith and love,
To perfect hope and peace and trust For earth and heaven above."
A. Jesus Christ is the author and finisher of our faith: Heb. 12.1-2
B. Jesus Christ is the ultimate expression of love for mankind, and serves as our example of how to love others: 1 Jn. 3.16-18
C. Jesus Christ is our hope, by whom we have been begotten again unto a living hope: Col. 1.27, 1 Pet. 1.3-5
IV. The 4th stanza says that those who come to Jesus can have God’s grace.
"’Tis Jesus who confirms The blessed work within,
By adding grace to welcomed grace, Where reigned the power of sin."
A. For those who are saved and continue to serve Him faithfully, the Lord will confirm His work within them: 1 Cor. 1.8
B. This He does by giving us acces into His grace: Rom. 5.1
C. Such grace is added to the grace by which they were saved in coming to Christ: Eph. 2.8-9
V. The 5th stanza says that those who come to Jesus can have assurance that God will fulfill His promises
"And He assurance [the witness] gives To loyal hearts and free,
That every promise is fulfilled, If faith but brings the plea."
A. This assurance is to be found in that which is written: 1 Jn. 5.14
B. That which is written assures us that God will fulfill every promise that He makes to those who receive His grace, including the promise of eternal life: Heb. 6.13-18, 1 Jn. 2.25
C. However, these promises are made to those who remain in His grace because they walk by faith: 2 Cor. 5.7
VI. The 6th stanza says that those who come to Jesus can praise Him for His salvation
"All hail! atoning blood! All hail! redeeming grace!
All hail! the gift of Christ our Lord, Our Strength and Righteousness."
A. We should hail the blood of Christ because it provides redemption: Eph. 1.7
B. We should hail the grace of Christ because it makes salvation possible: Acts 15.11
C. We should hail the gift of Christ because God sent Him to die for our sins: 2 Cor. 9.15
CONCL.: The chorus expresses the resolve which we hope that the penitent believer might have to come to Jesus.
"I am coming, Lord! Coming now to Thee!
Wash me, cleanse me in the blood That flowed on Calvary!"
Hartsough is credited with a number of hymns and tunes during his lifetime, but this is the only one to remain in common usage. However, it has been often sung through the years to encourage people to think about their spiritual condition and to respond to Jesus’s call by saying, "I Am Coming, Lord."