"JESUS NOW IS CALLING"
"The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed…" (Ps. 9.9)
INTRO.: A song which invites those who are oppressed to come to the Lord is "Jesus Now Is Calling." The text was written and the tune was composed both by Ralph Erskine Hudson (1843-1901). A Napoleon, OH, native who grew up in Pennsylvania, he was a music teacher at Ut. Union College in Alliance, OH, for several years and then established a music publishing business in Cleveland, OH. Between 1882 and 1893 he compiled some nine books. I have not been able to find any information on the date of this song or its origin of publication. This is a rare instance of where Hudson produced both words and music. He is best remembered for providing melodies for the lyrics of others, such as Isaac Watts’s "Alas, and did my Savior bleed?" ("At the Cross"), Francis R. Havergal’s "The Half Has Never Yet Been Told," William Cushing’s "I Will Follow Jesus," and Clara T. Williams’s "Satisfied." However, he did provide a text "I’ll Live for Him Who Died for Me" with a tune by Charles R. Dunbar. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, "Jesus Now Is Calling" appeared in the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2 and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 both edited by L. O. Sanderson; the 1971 Songs of the Church (original edition only) edited by Alton H. Howard; and the 1978 Hymns of Praise edited by Reuel Lemmons. Today it may be found in the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat.
The song has most often been used in extending the Lord’s invitation to come to Him for rest.
I. Stanza 1 points out what Jesus will do
"Come, ye weary and oppressed, Jesus now is calling you;
Come to Him, He’ll give you rest–Jesus bids you come."
A. Jesus wants people to come to Him: Jn. 6.45
B. Those who need to come to Jesus are pictured as being oppressed, just as those who needed Jesus’s healing during His lifetime were oppressed of the devil: Acts 10.38
C. To those who come to Him, He will give rest: Matt. 11.28-30
II. Stanza 2 points out what Jesus has done
"Though your sins like mountains rise, Jesus now is calling you;
He has made the sacrifice–And He bids you come."
A. The basic reason why we need Jesus is because of our sins: Rom. 3.23
B. Sometimes it may seem as if our sins like mountains rise and we think of ourselves as the chief of sinners, as did the apostle Paul: 1 Tim. 1.15
C. However, Jesus has made the sacrifice that is needed to put away all our sins: Heb. 9.26
III. Stanza 3 points out what Jesus can do
"Though your sins like scarlet be, Jesus now is calling you;
From your sins He’ll set you free, And He bids you come."
A. Sin is pictured as being something scarlet that stains our souls: Isa. 1.18
B. Therefore, what a person needs more than anything else is remission of sins: Matt. 26:28
C. And Jesus came to make us free from sin: Jn. 8:36
CONCL.: The chorus emphasizes the fact that this Savior calls us to come to Him.
"Jesus now is calling, Calling, calling;
Jesus now is calling you, Calling you to come."
When I was a teenage songleader and the congregation where we attended was still using Christian Hymns No. 2, I tried to introduce this song without much success. Once a number of years ago, in a congregation where I was preaching that used Sacred Selections, I would occasionally copy songs from other books for use on singing nights; we sang this one and one of the members said that he had fond memories of singing it frequently when he was growing up. While there are many good invitation songs available for our use, we should remember that the primary purpose of an invitation song is to let those who need to respond to the invitation to know that "Jesus Now Is Calling."