“Pass Me Not”

"We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ…" (1 Jn. 2.2)

     INTRO.: A song which points to Jesus Christ as our advocate with the Father is "Pass Me Not" (cf. #58 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by Frances (Fanny) Jane Crosby VanAlstyne (1820-1915). The tune (Christian’s Prayer) was composed by William Howard Doane (1832-1915). The words were produced after Doane gave Miss Crosby the melody in 1868. The song was first published in Doane’s 1870 Songs of Devotion. It was one of Miss Crosby’s first published gospel songs.

     Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, it appeared in the 1925 edition of 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) and the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2 both edited by L. O. Sanderson; the 1940 Complete Christian Hymnal and the 1959 Hymnal both edited by Marion Davis; the 1959 Majestic Hymnal No. 2 and the 1978 Hymns of Praise both edited by Reuel Lemmons; the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater; and the original edition of the 1971 Songs of the Church edited by Alton H. Howard (but omitted in later editions).  Today it may be found in the 1978/1983 (Church) Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; in addition to Sacred Selections, where it is found with much alteration and begins "Hear Me Now."

     The song describes in detail the kind of attitude that is needed to call upon the Father through Christ.

I. Stanza 1 tells us that this attitude involves a recognition of Christ as Savior
"Pass me not, O gentle Savior; Hear my humble cry.
While on others Thou art calling, Do not pass me by."
 A. Jesus Christ is the Savior: Lk. 2.11
 B. We can ask Him to hear our humble cry because He is also our Mediator with the Father: 1 Tim. 2.5
 C. However, He will pass us by if we persist in sin because the Lord’s face is against those who do evil: 1 Pet. 3.12

II. Stanza 2 tells us that this attitude involves contrition
"Let me at Thy throne of mercy Find a sweet relief; (some have "Help me at Thy throne")
Kneeling there in deep contrition, Help my unbelief."
 A. God has made it possible through Christ our High Priest to come before His throne of mercy: Heb. 4.14-16
 B. However, to do so we must be characterized by deep contrition, which is defined as a spirit of guilt or remorse, which the Bible calls repentance: 2 Cor. 7.8-10
 C. Such a spirit will ask the Lord to help our unbelief: Mk. 9.24; can those who have become Christians have a problem with unbelief? Yes: Heb. 4.6-11 (note KJV)

III. Stanza 3 tells us that this attitude involves trust
"Trusting only in Thy merit, Would I seek Thy face.
Heal my wounded, broken spirit; Save me by Thy grace."
 A. "Trusting only in Thy merit" simply means that we cannot merit forgiveness by our own merit but obtain it only the merit of Christ’s death; therefore, we must trust in Christ: Eph. 1.12-13
 B. One of the things for which we trust Christ is to heal our wounded, broken spirit, as David requested in repentance for his sin: Ps. 51.7-17
 C. This reminds us that the only way that anyone can be saved, whether one outside of Christ to find salvation or those in Christ to receive pardon for their sins, is by God’s grace: Eph. 2.8-9

IV. Stanza 4 tells us that this attitude involves looking to Christ for all we need
"Thou the Spring of all my comfort, More than life to me,
Whom have I on earth beside Thee? Whom in heaven but Thee?"
 A. Only Jesus Christ can provide that well or fountain of water springing up into everlasting life: Jn. 4.14
 B. We should look upon Him as more than life itself to us because He came that we might have life: Jn. 10.10
 C. Therefore, to please God, we must understand that there is none in heaven or earth to save us but Christ: Ps. 73.25

      CONCL.: The chorus again asks the Lord to hear us and not pass us by:
"Savior, Savior, hear my humble cry;
While on others Thou art calling, Do not pass me by."
Various objections have been made to the song through the years. Some have said that it emphasizes concern for self over others or that it implies that God is capricious or unwilling to look in mercy on all who call for it. Some brethren have especially accused it of picturing the alien sinner at the altar trying to pray through. However, none of these objections is necessarily true. Drawing from Psalms 51 and 83, it can easily be made to picture the Christian who has sinned asking the Lord not to pass him by because of hardness of heart but to help him have a penitent spirit so that he can receive mercy. With this understanding, I have no qualms about saying to the Lord, "Pass Me Not."


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