"WELCOME FOR ME"
"Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers…" (Ps. 124.7)
INTRO.: A song which likens our lives to that of a bird who has wandered away but escapes the snare by returning to its nest is "Welcome For Me." The text was written by Frances Jane Van Alstyne, better known by her maiden and professional name of Fanny J. Crosby (1820-1915). The tune was composed by William James Kirkpatrick (1838-1921). The song was copyrighted in 1885 and appeared in the 1890 Finest of the Wheat (#139) edited by George D. Elderkin and published by R. R. McCabe and Co. for Kirkpatrick and others.
Among the hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, this song appeared in only three that I have found. The first was Christian Hymns No. 2, edited by L. O. Sanderson for the Gospel Advocate Co. in 1948. The next was The Hymnal, edited by Marion Davis in 1960. The last was Abiding Hymns, edited by Robert C. Welch in 1963.
This song expresses the relief of finding refuge and rest in returning to Christ.
I. Stanza 1 emphasizes the Lord’s call
"Like a bird on the deep, far away from the nest,
I had wandered, my Savior, from Thee;
But Thy dear loving voice called me home to Thy breast,
And I knew there was welcome for me."
A. The stanza begins with the picture of a bird far away on the deep, as the dove that Noah sent out from the ark and returned to him: Gen. 8.8-9
B. Like that dove, all of us have wandered away from the Savior at one time or another in our lives: Isa. 53.6
C. However, the voice of Jesus, revealed to us through His word, calls us to come to Him for rest: Matt. 11.28-30
II. Stanza 2 emphasizes the Lord’s mercy
"I am safe in the ark; I have folded my wings
On the bosom of mercy divine;
I am filled with the light of Thy presence so bright,
And the joy that will ever be mine."
A. When we respond to the call of the Lord and return to Him from our wanderings, we can find refuge in Him as the dove returned to the ark for refuge: Gen. 8.10-11
B. In the safety of this spiritual "ark" we can rest on the bosom of mercy divine because it is by God’s mercy that we are saved: Eph. 2.4-5, Tit. 3.5
C. Through this great mercy, we can be filled with the light of His presence: 1 Jn. 1.5-7
III. Stanza 3 emphasizes the Lord’s joy
"I am safe in the ark, and I dread not the storm,
Though around me the surges may roll;
I will look to the skies, where the day never dies,
I will sing of the joy in my soul."
A. Also, in the safety of our spiritual "ark" we no longer have to fear the storms of life: 2 Tim. 1.7, 1 Jn. 4.18
B. Rather, we can look to the skies from whence comes our help: Ps. 121.1-2
C. With this help, we can sing of the joy in our souls: Phil. 4.4
CONCL.: The chorus reminds us of the fact that the returning soul can find welcome in Christ:
"Welcome for me, Savior, from Thee;
A smile and a welcome for me;
Now, like a dove, I rest in Thy love,
And find a sweet refuge in Thee."
All of us have sinned and departed from the Lord. Whether I am an alien out of Christ or a child of God who has fallen away or even a Christian who has transgressed God’s will momentarily, I need to heed the Lord’s call to receive His mercy and be filled with His joy. When I do turn to Him in humble repentance and meet His conditions, I will find that there is a "Welcome For Me."