“Let Him In”


“If any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in…” (Rev. 3:20)

INTRO.: A song which exhorts the sinner to hear the Lord’s voice and open the door so that He will come in is “Let Him In” (#305 in Hymns for Worship Revised, #616 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by Jonathan Burtch Atchinson, who was born on Feb. 17, 1840, at Wilson in Niagara County, NY, the son of Henry M. and Annah (Burtch) Atchinson.. The husband of Hattie M. Atchinson, he served during the Civil War as a musician with Company G of the New York 27th Infantry Regiment, following which he became a Methodist preacher in 1869, working with the Genesee (now Western New York) Conference and after 1874 in Michigan with the Detroit Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In the department of Sunday-school work he had a national reputation. He was for some years Sunday-school editor of the Michigan Advocate, a contributor of the Sunday Guest, and also editor of Rice’s series of Sunday-school lesson books.

During his life, Atchinson produced several gospel songs, with such titles as, “Behold the Stone Is Rolled Away,” “Fully Persuaded, Lord, I Believe,” “Not Half Has Ever Been Told,” “Rejoice with Me,” “The Savior Intercedes,” and “O Crown of Rejoicing That’s Waiting for Me.” He had nearly 150 pieces of poetry set to music by upward of sixty different composers and scattered through sixty different books published in this country and England. Another of his hymns which has appeared in some of our songbooks is entitled, “In the Shadow of His Wings.” The tune for “Let Him In” was composed by Edwin Othello Excell (1851-1921). The song was copyrighted in 1881 by John J. Hood and apparently first appeared in The Gospel Choir, edited by Ira D. Sankey and published by Biglow and Main Company of New York City, NY, in 1885. Atchinson died at Midland City, OH (some sources say Midland, MI), on July 15, 1882, aged 42 years. His body was returned to Wilson, NY, for burial in the Greenwood Cemetery.

Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ, “Let Him In” has 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 1940 Complete Christian Hymnal edited by Marion Davis; the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2 edited by L. O. Sanderson; the 1959 Majestic Hymnal No. 2 and the 1978 Hymns of Praise both edited by Reuel Lemmons; the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch; 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; the 1978 Church Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat; the 2009 Favorite Songs of the Church and the 2010 Songs for Worship and Praise both edited by Robert J. Taylor Jr.; and the 2012 Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs edited by Steve Wolfgang et. al; in addition to Hymns for Worship and Sacred Selections.

The song extends the invitation for those who are lost to open the door of their hearts and let Christ in.

I. Stanza 1 invites us to let Jesus in
There’s a stranger at the door,
Let Him in;
He has been there oft before,
Let Him in;
Let Him in, ere He is gone;
Let Him in, the Holy One,
Jesus Christ the Father’s Son,
Let Him in.
A. The idea of a “door” represents opportunity: Rev. 3:8
B. We should let the Stranger at the door in because He is the Holy One: Heb. 7:24-26
C. And this Holy One is identified as Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son: Jn. 3:16

II. Stanza 2 invites us to open our hearts to this Friend
Open now to Him your heart,
Let Him in;
If you wait He will depart,
Let Him in;
Let Him in, He is your Friend;
He your soul will sure defend,
He will keep you to the end,
Let Him in.
A. Jesus wants to dwell in our hearts: Eph. 3:4-17
B. And we should want Him to dwell in our hearts because He is our Friend: Jn. 15:13-15
C. As our Friend, He will keep us to the end: Rev. 3:10

III. Stanza 3 invites us to listen to His loving voice
Hear you now His loving voice?
Let Him in;
Now, O, now make Him your choice,
Let Him in;
He is standing at your door;
Joy to you He will restore,
And His name you will adore,
Let Him in.
A. God wants us to hear the voice of Jesus: Matt. 17:1-5
B. And hearing His voice, we need to make Him our choice: Josh. 24:15
C. When we do this, He will restore to us the joy of salvation: Ps. 51:12

IV. Stanza 4 invites us to admit this heavenly Guest
Now admit the heavenly Guest,
Let Him in;
He will make for you a feast,
Let Him in;
He will speak your sins forgiven,
And when earth ties all are riven,
He will take you home to heaven,
Let Him in.
A. When we thus admit this heavenly Guest, He will make for us a feast where we can eat the spiritual bread of life: Jn. 6:48-51
B. Also, He will speak our sins forgiven because in Him we have redemption through His blood which is the forgiveness of sin: Eph. 1:7
C. And finally, He will take us home to heaven: 1 Pet. 1:3-5

CONCL.: Unlike most other gospel songs, there is no chorus, although the oft repeated phrase, “Let Him in,” serves the same sort of purpose. Many hymnbooks use the first line, “There’s a Stranger at the Door,” as the title for the song. Given the function of an invitation song, this one does a good job at encouraging those who are lost in sin to open the door of their hearts to Jesus Christ and “Let Him In.”


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