GOH: Come Ye Sinners (I Will Arise And Go To Jesus)

One of the frequent complaints that fundamentalists make about contemporary Christian songs is that they “make Jesus sounds like your boyfriend.” But if this hymn is any judge that sort of sentiment predates the modern praise chorus by a fairish bit (not that this has stopped modern artists from using it)

I also personally think that Freud would find this song very interesting. But that’s as far as I’ll take that line of thought.

128 thoughts on “GOH: Come Ye Sinners (I Will Arise And Go To Jesus)”

    1. Why, yes, yes I did. I’m ordering my butt cushion in whoopee cushion style, because a whoopee cushion is a physical fart joke, and I’m in a fart joke mood, because “Jesus is my boyfriend” songs remind me of the South Park episode “Christian Rock Hard”, and South Park does enjoy using the fart jokes.

    1. I agree!! It is absolutely gorgeous. Not crazy about the arrangement, but the hymn itself is hauntingly lovely.

      I have heard this same melody used as a setting for Isaac Watts’s beautiful Christmas hymn, “Hush, My Dear, Lie Still and Slumber.”

  1. Being female, I always wondered if the men in church were uncomfortable with the more personal preaching and singing about Jesus, especially since many of them are homophobic to the extreme.

    1. I’m not homophobic, but I have always been uncomfortable with the touchy-feely Jesus songs. Why? Because Jesus was an actual person. You know, a man. And if the Bible is true, then he is still alive out there some where with a real honest-to-God body and everything. This leads to two problems for me. First, all this nonsense about a “personal relationship with Jesus Christ” just sounds silly or even psychotic. Jesus is a real man. Unless you are hiding him in your closet, you don’t have a personal relationship with him. Second, while I can appreciate metaphor, can you imagine singing some of these songs about any living person? Yeah, me neither. So no, I am not comfortable with the “Jesus is my boyfriend” songs.

        1. I can’t really respond, because I don’t know how your comment is related to mine, or what you mean by “physical relationship”. Are you saying that you have relationships with people that do not involve communication or shared experience (physical things)? The bottom line is that none of us has a “personal relationship” with Jesus that is even remotely analogous to relationships we have with other people. We use the term as a kind of christianese shorthand for religious experience.

        2. “And he walks with me, and he talks with me, and he tells me I am his own…”

          I call BS. If he’s walking & talking with you, take Thorazine.

      1. I, too, think the idea of a “personal relationship” with Jesus Christ or God is a bit silly. According to Scripture, our names have to be written in His Book. He will call us before His Judgment Seat to judge us (or at least our works). That doesn’t sound like a “personal relationship.”

        But Scripture does present contrary pictures of our relationship with God, so it is easy to ignore the relationship ideas you don’t want.

  2. I’ll go ahead & admit it: I really love this song. Maybe it’s the mournful feel to the melody, maybe the simple yet perfect harmonies, maybe the picture of a Jesus who is tender & willing to embrace sinners instead of damning us all to hell.

    1. I do like this song too.

      However, I get Darrell’s point: that fundies like to point out every possible thing they dislike about contemporary Christian music while ignoring the fact that sometimes the same things could be said about the songs they themselves love.

      In most situations, whether contemporary or traditional, I feel that it depends on the listener: many times, one finds what one is looking for.

      The “Jesus is my boyfriend” metaphor may annoy or disgust some people (and sometimes is taken to extremes in some songs), but I think it is a legitimate metaphor based on Scripture: the church is the bride of Christ, the wedding feast is a description of heaven, and throughout the Old Testament God describes idolatry as adultery because Israel was married to Him and being unfaithful. Also some people LONG to be loved and the tender, compassionate words of comfort in songs which may sound over-sentimental to some are just perfect for others.

      1. JIMB songs, as I understand them, never use the name of Jesus, but use pronouns to refer to Jesus, which could also refer to someone other than Jesus.

        As such this song is not a JIMB song, as the name ‘Jesus’, and his title ‘Savior’ appear in the song. Nobody can confuse who the song is about.

    2. While I see Darrell’s point, I love this song, too.

      Best lines:
      Come, ye weary, heavy laden,
      Lost and ruined by the fall;
      If you tarry till you’re better,
      You will never come at all.

      Ashley Cleveland has a great version, too, but admittedly she is an acquired taste.

    3. Agreed. I love this hymn. I remember singing an arrangement of it when I sang in my church’s choir about 10 years ago – it was one of my favorites.

      But then, I’ve never had a problem with the “Jesus is my boyfriend” genre.

  3. Sorry man, gotta disagree on this. The song is great IMO. However what is it with fundy college choirs and there being no joy? They have some of te most joyless expressions.

    1. Agreed. The majority of fundy college choirs I’ve seen have been either a) joyless (exhausted, defeated), or b) fake, syrupy, (condescending), slap-happy. (I’m looking at you, PCC and BJ.)

      There have been notable exceptions. Saw a Clearwater group that broke the mold. (Are they fundy? Don’t remember.)

  4. Boy, do I think you’re wrong on this one. Joseph Hart, who wrote this hymn, is telling his own story. The image conveyed (the hymn was written in 1750) is one of human wretchedness overcome by God’s grace in Christ, the magnitude of which is expressed in the word “charms” — which doesn’t connote sexuality here, but the sheer, wondrous, inexpressible beauty of the Gospel. This is nothing like many of the Gospel hymns from the late 19th century to today, some of which contain what could almost be called bedroom metaphors.

    I don’t know who wrote this arrangement (maybe John Ness Beck, who is known for such things). It certainly is beautiful, and this choir does a very fine job singing it. Would that most IFB churches (or most fundamentalist or evangelical churches) had similarly good taste in music.

  5. I remember my mom singing this…and I have it on a Michael Card album. I never really thought about it being the boyfriend category as I do with some more modern songs although I ‘suppose’ I could see how someone could interpret it that way.

    It is a very beautiful melody.

  6. Well, with regard to the “Jesus is my Boyfriend” thought, I wonder how far to stand away from some preachers if they were to see this verse:

    “Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.” John 13:23.

    The heads exploding over that one could be WMDs!

    1. Not really. Maybe in fundy churches. Modern Western male companionship (or lack thereof) is a very, very small minority in time and space. Today it is quite normal for men in other cultures (I’m speaking of my own actual experiences here, fwiw) to touch, lounge on each other, drape legs over each other, hold hands, etc. And if you take a look back through historical photos in the US you will find that we used to be a lot more “touchy”. So actual students of the Bible not only don’t think twice about that phrase in John; it actually serves to portray Jesus as a real human instead of a space-god in a meat-suit.

  7. I think one big problem in fundamentalism is that they see Jesus Christ as being soooo Holy and soooo Separate From Sinners that there could never actually be “affection,” or emotional love or the desire to hold and be held (physical affection is close to emotional affection).

    So “loving God” is relegated to a hard, emotionless intellectualized region where you “show love” by excessive devotion to zeal and following rules. The Loved One is always far off and inaccessible on a personal level, at least on earth.

    Heh. Sounds a lot like the zeal people had in the Nazi party for Hitler.

    I liked this song very much. It does not treat Jesus as so far off to be inaccessible other than by bureaucracy.

        1. How about a nice bottle of Scotch instead? It’s just as realistic as the butt cushion. πŸ˜‰

  8. This is one of my favorite hymns. It has a decidedly American heritage as the chorus “I will arise” is still anonymous and was added during the 1800s probably an arrangement of a chorus to transition between hymns that sort of stuck. There is a distinct change in the feel when you transition from the verse to the refrain, which in some ways illustrates the place that phrase comes from, the parable of the Lost Son.

    The metaphor here is pretty clear, I personally have no issue with it, but it certainly does highlight the hypocrisy of the particular argument against modern praise and worship choruses (or perhaps not so modern any more) that is common in IFB pulpits.

    The merger of hymn tunes and Civil War era popular music tunes with words that were extracted from campmeeting preachers by ecstatic crowds and repeated and eventually written down created an interesting folk/gospel genre that heavily influences the music of the IFB movement. In fact they use more of this music than actual hymns in many cases.

    Interesting also is that most modern worship music is being written in a more hymn style, and presents very direct scriptural and liturgical truths in much more clear and direct settings than much of the music of my Baptist upbringing where it was all metaphors about the relationships of lovers or friends, and constant agrarian and nautical themes.

    1. That’s quite interesting that the chorus was not originally part of the hymn (first published in 1759). These songs about Jesus clutching us to his bosom seem to have peaked in the 1800s.

    2. The merger of hymn tunes and Civil War era popular music tunes with words that were extracted from campmeeting preachers by ecstatic crowds and repeated and eventually written down created an interesting folk/gospel genre that heavily influences the music of the IFB movement. In fact they use more of this music than actual hymns in many cases.

      Yes!! THIS.

  9. I like this hymn very much, both the tune and the words (although I don’t like this arrangement of it*).

    I’m especially taken by the lyrics of the last two stanzas:
    Come ye weary, heavy laden,
    Lost and ruined by the fall;
    If you tarry till you’re better,
    You will never come at all.

    Let not conscience make you linger,
    Nor of fitness fondly dream;
    All the fitness He requireth
    Is to feel your need of Him.

    The theology of the song is so Arminian, at least to my mind, that I’m a little surprised that Fundamentalist Baptists are singing it.

    *The Todd Agnew version is much worse, for more reasons than I can list here.

    1. “theology of the song is so Arminian”

      No! That’s quite a Calvinistic song. Check these phrases:

      True belief and true repentance,
      Every grace that brings you nigh.

      Come, ye weary, heavy-laden,
      Lost and ruined by the fall;
      If you tarry till you’re better,
      You will never come at all.

      All the fitness He requireth
      Is to feel your need of Him.

      Good Calvinistic lyrics about belief, repentance, lostness, ruin.

      1. We aren’t likely to agree on that point.
        It sounds like pure Arminianism to me .
        I don’t see any hint of Predestination, for example, or of belief in Total Depravity or Limited Atonement.

        But I’m not a Calvinist, nor an expert on Calvinism, so …

  10. Generally SFL is spot on – but i think this one is a bit of a stretch…. and comes off a tad snarky and a touch IFB…

    Nothing IFB like a weak generalization…

    1. If you understood the GOH category you would recognize that Darrell is not snarking about the song itself necessarily. He is pointing out the inconsistency of a common argument used against modern music with the clear parallel found in music popular in the IFB camp.

      The funny thing is that this isn’t even the worst example…

      1. the IFB is inconsistent – but the parallel cited to make the point is a bit of a stretch… In my mind – weak generalizations are IFB and i find it somewhat ironic that SFL on occasion simply IFBs the IFBers.

        Definitely a need for SFL and it is appreciated – some points/posts are better made than others.

        1. I will have to disagree. The depth of Darrell’s gift for satire is such that he even employs IFB argumentation and methods as a way of illustrating its absurdity.

          I don’t think I am giving him too much credit, I think you are giving him too little.

    2. I don’t see anything in today’s post being a weak generalization, or snarky, or IFB in any way.

      If they complain about the nonsense in today’s music, they should take a look at some of the weirdness and blatant misuse of scripture in their beloved hymns. “We Three Kings” is an obvious example, as there is nothing that states definitively that only three kings went to visit Jesus.

        1. We’re not saying these songs are bad, whether We Three Kings or Come Ye Sinners.

          The point is that fundies tend to view music they have already rejected under a microscope. “This song uses pronouns and not the name of God, that one is overly-emotional,” etc etc etc. But their own songs are all A-OK just because they’re in the hymnbook. They feel quite ok rejecting Casting Crowns as a whole (for a general example) but don’t care that some of their own have the same characteristics.

  11. I enjoy this hymn very much, and I think this particular version is well-executed (said the not-musician). But I can’t really understand the “Jesus” part in the hymn. Sigh. See my above rant, I don’t feel like repeating myself!

    1. Disclaimer: FBBC grad and YES I got into a Catholic university grad school to complete my teaching credential. Probably never heard the school mentioned or advertised because Calvinist isn’t a dirty word, not KJVO and definitely not skirts only on the wimmen. Yelling is not taught as a preferred pulpit technique, either.

  12. Am I a racist when I say that in Mexico, or even the southwest USA, that “Jesus is my boyfriend” would hardly invite comment?
    “Jesus Gonzales or Jesus Ramirez? Because I think I know the second one from chemistry class.”

    1. I’m pretty sure you’re not thinking of the same Jesus there.
      I know several guys named Jesus, but none of them thinks he is the Messiah, any more than any of the Marys (or Marias) I know believes she is the Mother of God.

      1. I just wonder why Jesus or “Yesu” is still popular in Latin countries when it’s died off in the rest of the world. I know that as a name, it was fairly common in Israel around the time of Christ’s birth.
        Doesn’t Jesus Montero play for the Seattle Mariners? Pretty sure there’s a couple others with the name as well.
        πŸ™„

        1. Once heard of a girl who swore she had an uncle named “Oh-Death-Where-Is-Thy-Sting-Question-Mark Schwarz”. πŸ˜€

  13. Here’s what I don’t understand about anyone’s beef with “contemporary” music. At one point, even the traditional hymns were contemporary. What are we supposed to do. Write new songs and then shelve them for 100 years before we can sing them in church or sing them at all? Plus, in Psalms it talks about singing a NEW song.

    Of course, maybe I’m missing what is meant by “contemporary”. I try to attach literal meanings to words. Thus, contemporary means “of the same time period or of the current time period”. If one wishes to make “contemporary” mean “heavy metal grunge Satan worship” then one could also make “four” mean “tailpipe”.

    1. Oh, and I do realize that a “beef” with contemporary music was not the point of today’s post. That it was showing the inconsistiency rampant within the IFB movement. I just thought I would throw my two bits into the pot.

    2. Good point! At one point the traditional hymns were contemporary. Of course only those that “stood the test of time” survived. The dreck disappeared into the proverbial dustbin of history. Today we have plenty of dreck mixed in with a little bit of good stuff…so, if you turn on your local CCM station, you’re much more likely to hear dreck, not good stuff. Maybe in 50 years the good stuff from Today will shake out and become the new classics…? I dunno. Just a thought.

  14. I loathe the “Jesus is my boyfriend” songs, but I never thought this one fell into that category. For one thing, the elevated language keeps the listener somewhat removed from any sense of physical intimacy. Then again, the Bible does give us images of John laying his head in the bosom of Jesus, and of the saints hanging onto Paul’s neck and crying. Our modern culture of everything-is-about-sex is quite different from the cultures of greater personal familiarity and contact of times past.

  15. FBBC: “Where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking and all the children above average.”

    (However, there was a certain homogeneity in the choir’s ethnicity.)

    How may of these young people either are, or will be, with us here on SFL? Just wondering.

    1. I went to FBBC for my freshman year over a decade ago. I would say it is at least fundy lite. It might not been as bad as some others because it was smaller, which made it a little bit more relaxed I think. I do remember that they were an unofficial GARB school and gave me the impression they didn’t care much for Southern Baptists. They weren’t KJVo, but did require skirts for women and no ccm. At least when I was there.

    1. Oh, hello Troll. Thought you would be coming along before long.

      Fortunately, you are not God, you have no way to judge Darrell’s heart or motivations or make any conclusion about whether he loves God or not.

      For all I know, you won’t see you in heaven, either.

      1. I’m sorry for lashing out. But my comment is still true. You are desperate in your attempts to pull people from those of us who truly follow Christ and his commandments.

        1. So, song preferences determine whether or not one loves God?

          I am confused. Most folks here are saying that they like this song. But even if they loathed it, so what? Since when does liking a particular song determine one’s eternal status? Since when does disliking a particular song mean you hate God? Where is *that* in the Bible?

        2. Whatever gave you that idea? Whatever gave you the idea that I don’t truly follow Christ or His commandments?

          The fact that I make fun of fundamentalists making everything a commandment, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men?

          Where do I or the others at SFL advocate turning away from Christ? Find it, and give a true answer, not just an accusation. If all you have it an accusation, you are in league with the one who is the False Accuser. Hot stuff!

          Me? I will continue to point out and discuss the falsities and frailties of fundamentalist faith. One does not have to go your way to follow Jesus.

          Please remember that if God’s ways are higher than my ways, and His thoughts higher than my thoughts, they are higher than yours as well.

  16. My taste in music definitely does not run to CCM. Then again, I find fault with many of the sloppy old ones. I do find myself hearing the melodies used in our Episcopal services, and I hear classical music in my mind as well.

    But I don’t listen to Christian radio. I don’t listen to BJU-style music (the CDs, etc) unless my daughter has put them on.

    I would say that much of my aversion to some kinds of Christian music (even the ones that “check”) are due to the abuse suffered in fundamentalism and the disappointment in the theology much of the music expresses. God does not always come to the rescue. God does not always heal the broken heart. God may be highly exalted, but that doesn’t mean I have to agree that everything He does or allows is right or for our own good or will ultimately turn out for the best.

    I find the simplistic theologies insipid.

    1. I find fault with many of the sloppy old ones.

      That’s one reason I love shape-note hymnody so much. The schmaltzy Gospel stuff that supplanted shape-note after the Civil War favored sappy tunes and even sappier lyrics. (Sorry, y’all, and hope I don’t offend anyone, but “In the Garden” makes me gag.) But there’s nothing sappy or schmaltzy about shape-note. The melodies are rooted in plainchant and Celtic music, and, much of the time, the lyrics are about death. You can’t get too sappy when you’re singing about death. Well, OK, yes, you can, but not when you’re singing about it like this. (The Irish are into shape-note? Who knew?)

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TsjykFfMnZA

      1. Errrr. Bagpipes, to my ear. It’s an acquired taste. At it’s best (such as this video) shape-note is just loud, monotonous harmonies. At its worst, it’s a hillbilly shoutin’ match that rivals cats in heat.

        1. LOL, it is definitely a matter of taste.

          One of the members of Anonymous 4 said that, the first time she heard shape-note, she wanted to run screaming in the opposite direction.

          But then Anonymous 4 went on to record two CDs that featured shape-note hymns. Go figure. πŸ˜‰

        2. BTW, what’s wrong with bagpipes? πŸ˜€

          As far as hillbilly caterwaulin’ goes, you should hear the Alabama Sacred Harp Singers’ albums, recorded during the 1940s by the Library of Congress. Talk about…authentic.

        3. I’ve always wanted to learn how to sing shape-notes. You’d think with a music background, it would be fairly easy to pick up, but I just can’t seem to grasp it.

      2. I had a visceral response as a Catholic, a response of which I am not too proud. First, asking myself if this is an inter-denominational event? Do Catholics participate in these in Ireland or is it only Irish Protestants? And secondly, and I’m not even Irish-American Catholic, but I thought, “Oh,it sounds like marching music. ” I am sure it is not, but it sounds frightening.
        Third, when I tried to Google it, I automatically Google d”Sacred Heart” instead of “Sacred Harp.” Culture goes deep. Do you participate in these events?

  17. Nice arrangement… If I was the Director, I’d be having a long talk with the choir about watching instead of looking around at the congregation/audience…

    ( “How many choir directors does it take to change a light bulb?”

    Nobody knows…they weren’t watching!

    1. My high school choir director gave me a complex about this.

      “Make eye contact with the audience – communicate with them.”

      “LOOK AT ME! I’M CONDUCTING!”

      1. Was this a fundy school, Dr. Jez? Because if it was, the director was just doing what happens over and over again in fundamentalism: giving opposite commands and getting mad when you can’t read his mind and figure out which one you’re supposed to be following at that particular moment.

  18. This is my all-time favorite hymn, and this group of young-folk does it very well…howbeit in an obvious Bob Jones-ish-kind-of-way.

    The Problem with fundamentalism as a movement is that Jesus is more of a product and label that is “talked” about. This song expresses the deepest of devotion as expressed by those we read about, like Peter in the gospels and Paul in places like Colossians…and the host of heaven in Revelation.

    B.R.O.

  19. All I could think while watching this video was “For love of God, why doesn’t the director get that one soprano to reign in her out of control vibrato?!?!” Wagnerian vibrato like that is inappropriate for the song, overbalanced with the ensemble, and makes the singer seem like an insufferable diva. Vocalists, especially choral singers, ought to be able to turn vibrato on and off like a switch, or vary intensity as needed. Hate to hear a great song get this kind of pedantic musical treatment.

    1. I thought there was entirely too much showboating in both the arrangement and the performance for what should be a very straightforward tune, to match the clean structure of the verses.

    2. Agreed, The Wagnerian vibrato matches the rather Wagnerian arrangement when the key changes and it slows down and gets all dramatic I just sort of lost interest. Waste of a good simple melody with all that bombastic horseshit.

    3. Ah yes, the arrangement is certainly not the best I’ve come across. oddly enough, I was imagining my own arrangement after I listened to this. Simple or complex is not the issue with a melody like this, IME. The song is the jewel, the arrangement is the setting. Often, a simple melody can lend itself to a quite sophisticated and lovely arrangement. (Anyone who’s read a Fettke/Holck chart in their church choir knows this to be true) But this particular arrange my is pedestrian at best. *sigh* Now I have to write my own choral arrangement of this song, just to purify my brain. Pass the scotch and juice up the Kayfun; it’s going to be a long, creative night.

  20. On one of my played-to-death Boston Camerata CDs, there’s a wonderful 19th-century American hymn, “The Heavenly Courtier,” which emphasizes our bridal relationship with Jesus in terms that would make Saint John of the Cross blush. I wish I could find a YouTube of this remarkable song!

  21. Greetings to all my friends here at SFL,

    On the SFL home page, there is a link “Enjoy SFL? Donate for Bandwidth”.
    I just saw it this morning.

    Hopefully some of us who inhabit this site will kick in a couple of bucks if we can possibly afford to. Many of us cannot, and that’s sure understood. Darrell is providing all of us a great outlet and a place to help each other out.

    Blessings to all!

      1. Darrell is living in the hinterlands now. I’ve encouraged him to let us know if he needs a little help with getting a better internet connection for posting.

        Frankly, I can’t imagine how tough it is on a young guy like him, working 2 jobs, raising a family, being a husband, and trying to ride herd over a bunch of fundy and former fundy misfits like we all are.

        1. I’m thinking there’s lots of alcohol involved. πŸ˜‰

          But that also costs money, so we should consider donating to Darrell’s sanity fund. πŸ˜€

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