Who won’t be stirred when hearing that hymn? The melody not only soothes the ears, the inspiring message also leaves a tugging feeling in the heart. It’s no wonder why many used the hymn as the call to the altar song at the close of services. It’s a perfect tune for everyone seeking for salvation. Those who are willing to turn from their sins asked forgiveness and ready to follow Jesus Christ will find a connection to this song.
The song was written in 1835. Its author, English poet, hymn writer and editor Charlotte Elliot, fell into distressing thoughts about her apparent usefulness one night. Such ended in her questioning the reality of her whole spiritual life. Her troubles from the past nights continued to haunt her with such a force the following day. She felt that these must be met and conquered in God’s grace. Gathering up in her soul the great certainties of her salvation, she took a pen and paper and began writing. Getting comfort by recollecting the eternity of the Rock beneath her feet, she finished the lyrics without difficulty and a long pause. Right there and then, Elliot was accepted in the beloved hymn “Just As I Am.”
There are at least four melodies to which the hymn was set. The original tune entitled “Woodworth” was written by William B. Bradbury and was first published in 1849’s Third Book of Psalmody. Other authors adopted the hymn’s tune for their respective songs years later.
Meanwhile, the hymn either appeared or was referenced on the albums of some country music legends. Willie Nelson used it in his 1975 album The Red Headed Stranger. In 1999, the hymn was included in Johnny Cash’s Just As I Am. And recently, Paul Brandt recorded his own version of the hymn and used it as his 2012 album’s title track.
Impact of the Song
Perhaps the most famous individual with whom we could best associate the hymn was the late Billy Graham. After hearing the altar call song from a revival meeting he attended in 1934, Graham had converted to Christianity. In the latter half of the twentieth century, the hymn then became an altar call song in the prominent evangelical Christian figure’s crusades. Moreover, he used the hymn’s title as his 1997 book’s title Just As I Am: The Autobiography of Billy Graham.
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Billy Graham, Charlotte Elliot, Johnny Cash, Paul Brandt, William Bradbury, Willie Nelson
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