Come Ye Sinners// History of the Hymn

“Come ye sinners, poor and needy…”

This was exactly the situation Jospeh Hart found himself in one night in his mid-forties. It was 1757, and he was listening to a sermon from Revelation 3:10.

Born in 1712 to highly religious parents, Hart grew up surrounded by the Gospel. He had an extensive education, learning multiple different languages, including Hebrew and Greek.

In his early twenties he began to backslide and grow distant from spiritual things. He went so far as to completely disparage anything having to do with the Bible. Once, after hearing a sermon preached by John Wesley, he wrote and distributed a pamphlet entitled, The Unreasonableness of Religion.

He would later describe his state in this manner:

“For having, as I imagined, obtained by Christ a liberty of sinning, I was resolved to make use of it; and thought the more I could sin without remorse, the greater hero I was in faith. . . . In this abominable state, I continued, a loose backslider, an audacious apostate, a bold-faced rebel, for nine or ten years; not only committing acts of lewdness myself, but infecting others with the poison of my delusions. I published several pieces on different subjects, chiefly translations of the ancient heathens, to which I prefixed Prefaces, and subjoined Notes, of a pernicious tendency.”

For years he ran away from God, too steeped in the pleasures of sin for a season to be bothered with spiritual things.

Finally, in his forties, Hart was struck with severe conviction over his pathetic state. He had no joy or peace, and nothing of this world could fill the hole inside him. He was thirsting for the Springs of Living Water and starving for The Bread of Life.

Come, ye thirsty, come and welcome,
God’s free bounty glorify;
True belief and true repentance,
Ev’ry grace that brings you nigh.

But one thing bothered him. Would he be able to be rescued from this terrible life he had lived? Could Jesus accept him back after all that he had done? The answer he found was a resounding “yes”!

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

All the fitness he needed in order to come back to Jesus was to simply realize his need of Him. He had wandered for long enough. Now he was ready to repent and be welcomed back into Jesus’ arms.

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

Finally, with his life back on track living for the Lord, Hart was free from the depression and unhappiness that had plagued him. His life was completely turned around. God even used him to preach the gospel!

“My horrors were immediately dispelled, and such light and comfort flowed into my heart, as no words can paint.”

Joseph Hart

He began writing spiritual poems that became very well known once he published them. It was during this time that Hart penned the words to this well known hymn—Come Ye Sinners. He later said that the words and verses were his testimony. Boldly he could proclaim,

Sources Cited:

Then Sings My Soul by Robert J. Morgan

Hymnology Archive

6 thoughts on “Come Ye Sinners// History of the Hymn

  1. *gets chills* GIRL. I literally just suggested this hymn for my family to sing during family worship time!!! It’s SO GOOD. ❤️ So obviously I was very excited to see this post and learn the history behind it. 😀 The “let not conscience” stanza is my favorite!

    Thank you for this amazing post!

    Liked by 1 person

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