“When I See the Blood”

"And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you…" (Exo. 12.13)

     INTRO.: A song which takes the concept of God passing over the Israelites during the last plague of Egypt and applies it to salvation in Christ is "When I See The Blood" (#289 in Hymns for Worship Revised, and #200 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written and the tune was composed both by John G. Foote (19th c.). Very little is known about the author/composer or the background of the song. It was published around 1892 by the Foote Bros. but never copyrighted. In fact, a note often accompanying the song reads, "Not copyrighted. Let no one do so. May this song every be free to be published for the glory of God."

     This song has been very popular among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ. It appeared in the 1927 Sweeter Than All Songs edited by C. M. Pullias and published by the Gospel Advocate Co.; the 1935 Christian Hymns (No. 1) edited by L. O. Sanderson and also published by the Gospel Advocate; the 1940 Complete Christian Hymnal and the 1959 Hymnal both edited and published by Marion Davis; the 1943 Standard Gospel Songs edited and published by Tillit S. Teddlie; the 1952 Hymns of Praise and Devotion edited and published by Will W. Slater; the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch. The chorus only was included in the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 edited by E. L. Jorgenson.

     Today the song can be found in the 1971 Songs of the Church 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. Many other hymnbooks in my collection that have the hymn use a different arrangement of the words which is attributed to E. A. H., whom some believe to be Elisha A. Hoffman. Those whose version is substantially the same as that in our books do not list any arranger, so it would seem that our books have followed the original wording, except that Sacred Selections and Hymns for Worship have one alteration apparently made by Ellis J. Crum.

     The song emphasizes the importance of the blood of Christ in our salvation.

I. Stanza 1 talks about the death of Christ.
"Christ, our Redeemer, died on the cross, Died for the sinner, paid all his due;
All who receive Him need never fear, Yes, He will pass, will pass over you."
 A. One of the cardinal facts of scripture is that Christ died on the cross: Rom. 5.8
 B. This death was sacrifical because He died for our sins: 1 Cor. 15.3
 C. Therefore, those who receive Him can become children of God: Jn. 4.12-13

II. Stanza 2 talks about the salvation of Christ.
"Chiefest of sinners, Jesus can save, As He has promised, so will He do;
O sinner, hear Him, trust in His word, Then He will pass, will pass over you."
 A. Paul said that Christ came to save even the chief of sinners: 1 Tim. 1.15
 B. And this He will do because He has promised it: Heb. 10.23
 C. But to receive this salvation, the sinner must hear and trust: Matt. 17.5

III. Stanza 3 talks about the judgment of Christ.
"Judgment is coming, all will be there, Who have rejected, who have refused;
O sinner hasten, let Jesus in, Then God will pass, will pass over you."
 A. Another cardinal fact of scripture is that judgment is coming: Acts 17.30-31
 B. Everyone will be there, including those who have rejected God: 2 Cor. 5.10
 C. Because of this coming judgment, we should let Jesus in: Rev. 3.20

IV. Stanza 4 talks about the compassion of Christ.
"O what compassion, O boundless love! Jesus hath power, Jesus is true;
All who believe are safe from the storm, O He will pass, will pass over you."
 A. What Jesus did for us, He did because of His boundless love: 1 Jn. 3.16
 B. And the power of Jesus’s love to save us is found in the gospel: Rom. 1.16
 C. Therefore, all who truly believe in Him are safe. In the third line of stanza 3, Crum changed "all who believe" to "all who obey." However, if we understand that the Biblical concept of "believe" refers to all of our response to God’s commands, including our obedience, that we might be saved, then there should be no problem using the original, even as Jesus used it: Jn. 3.16.

     CONCL.: The chorus then reminds us that just as God passed over the Israelites during the death of the firstborn in Egypt because they had sprinkled the blood on their doorposts and lintels, so He will pass over us if we are washed in the blood of the Lamb.
"When I see the blood, When I see the blood,
When I see the blood, I will pass, I will pass over you."
Not only should we encourage others to be cleansed in the blood of Christ, but also we who are Christians can be thankful for what God has promised us when He tells us, "When I See The Blood."


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