“WHO AT MY DOOR IS STANDING?”
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock….Hear My voice, and open the door…” (Rev. 3:20)
INTRO.: A song which pictures Christ standing at the door of our hearts and knocking to come in is “Who At My Door Is Standing?” (#344 in Hymns for Worship Revised, #614 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by Mrs. Mary Bridges Canedy Slade (1826-1882). The tune (Everett or Thura) was composed by Asa Brooks Everett, who was born in Virginia in September of 1828. Because he studied to be a physician, many older songbooks identify him as “Dr. A. B. Everett.” However, he abandoned the practice of medicine for a career in music. He spent some time studying music in Boston, MA, along with his brother, Leonard C. Everett (1818-1867).
After teaching music for a short time in his native state, Asa spent four more years studying in Leipzig, Germany. Afterwards, he was an associate in the L. C. Everett Company with his brother and Rigdon McCoy McIntosh (1836-1899). This firm, which organized a musical instruction system in the 1850s, was located in Richmond, VA, and later in Pennsylvania. Before the Civil War, it had more than fifty teachers of music in its employ in the southern and middle Atlantic states representing them and using their publications. Asa wrote numerous gospel songs and edited a number of hymnbooks. He is credited with tunes for “Beyond This Land Of Parting,” “Footprints of Jesus,” “Hark, The Gentle Voice,” and “There’s A Fountain Free,” all with words by Mrs. Slade, and sometimes “I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord.”
The most popular of Asa’s hymnbooks was The Sceptre, which he compiled in 1871 for the Bigelow and Main Co. of New York City, NY, with another brother, Benjamin Holden Everett. He also collaborated with Basil Manly Jr. to put together Baptist Chorals: A Tune and Hymn Book which was one of the most significant efforts in the South to compile a collection of songs for Baptist worship. “Who at My Door Is Standing?” was produced about 1875, probably not long before Asa died in Davidson County near Nashville, TN, in Sept., 1875, and was first published in R. M. McIntosh’s Good News, printed at Boston, MA, in 1876. By 1921 the copyright had passed to the Standard Publishing Co. of Cincinnati, OH. Many older books have used the title “Knocking at the Door.” Some books have also used the opening line “Who at the door is standing,” which may possibly have been the original.
Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ, the song 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 1935 Christian Hymns (No. 1), the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2, and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 all edited by L. O. Sanderson; the 1940/1944 New Wonderful Songs edited by Thomas S. Cobb; 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 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater; the 1965 Great Christian Hymnal No. 2 edited by Tillit S. Teddlie; the 1971 Songs of the Church and the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. both edited by Alton H. Howard; the 1978/1983 Church Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; the 1986 Great Songs Revised edited by Forrest M. McCann; 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 encourages the sinner to open the door of his heart to Jesus.
I. From stanza 1 we learn that Christ desires to enter our hearts
Who at my door is standing,
Patiently drawing near,
Entrance within demanding?
Whose is the voice I hear?
- The picture of a door represents opportunity: Rev. 3:8
- Jesus seeks for an opportunity to dwell in our hearts: Eph. 3:17
- Thus He pleads with His voice for us to hear and respond to His call: Matt. 11:28-30
II. From stanza 2 we learn that we must open the door while there’s time
Lonely without He’s staying;
Lonely within am I;
While I am still delaying,
Will He not pass me by?
- He is lonely without because He desires to have fellowship with us: 1 Jn. 1:3
- As sinners, we are lonely within because we are without Christ: Eph. 2:12
- Ellis Crum in Sacred Selections changed the last line from “Will He not pass me by?” to “I am condemned to die” because he apparently objected to the idea that Christ would pass us by (he also changed “Pass me not, O gentle Savior” to “Hear me now, O gentle Savior,” and “While on others Thou art calling, Do not pass me by” to “While on others Thou art calling, Thou art always nigh”) and Hymns for Worship follows this change; however, the original simply points out that if we continue to delay, something may happen—whether the second coming, or death, or inability due to accident or illness, or simply hardness of heart—that would cause opportunity to respond to pass us by: Prov. 1:20, 28-32
III. From stanza 3 (not in Hymns for Worship) we learn that Christ continues to plead while time remains
All through the dark hours dreary,
Knocking again is He;
Jesus, art Thou not weary,
Waiting so long for me?
- As long as we remain in sin, we are in darkness: Jn. 3:19
- The knocking is symbolic of the continual call of the gospel: 2 Thess. 2:13-14
- It might be asked, why does Jesus continue to wait so long?: 2 Pet. 3:9
IV. From stanza 4 (3 in our book), we learn that if we open the door Christ will abide with us
Door of my heart, I hasten!
Thee will I open wide.
Though He rebuke and chasten,
He shall with me abide.
- We should hasten to respond because now is the day of salvation: 2 Cor. 6:2
- The way in which we open the door is by obeying Christ: Heb. 5:8-9
- The result is that Christ will come in and abide in us: Jn. 14:23
CONCL.: The chorus reiterates the theme of Jesus’s asking us to open our hearts to Him:
Sweetly the tones are falling;
Open the door for Me!
If thou wilt heed My calling,
I will abide with thee.
When I recognize that I am a sinner and learn that Jesus came to save from my sins and wants me to obey Him, I must come face to face with the question, “Who at My Door Is Standing?”