True penitence leads to boldness of faith in approaching the throne of grace. We open our present story behind famous hymns, therefore, with the touching story of the origin of a hymn which we all love to sing.
Miss Charlotte Elliott, when a young woman, was a lover of dancing. She was preparing to attend an annual ball and was on her way to the dressmaker to have her dress made for the occasion when she met her pastor. He was a very earnest and conscientious man and spoke earnestly with her concerning the ball. She became greatly vexed and told her pastor, “I wish you would mind your own business.”
She attended the dance and was very popular. The dance lasted until almost daylight. In spite of the flattering words that she heard and the attention she received all through the night of gayety, her conscience troubled her because of her conversation with her pastor. When she reached home her conscience had made her feel wretched. She could not sleep. She had always admired and loved her pastor as a cherished friend, and her rudeness in saying what she did worried her.
After some days she went to see him, confessed her feelings, and said, ‘For these days I have been the most wretched girl in the world, and now, oh, that I were a Christian! I want to be a Christian! What must I do?”
Her old pastor talked earnestly to her and said to her, “Just give yourself, my child, to the Lamb of God, just as you are.”
That expression in the counsel of her pastor caught hold of her mind and heart. The story of her experience is that as she prayed for courage to give herself to Jesus just as she was, the thought came like an inspiration, and she wrote the hymn which has brought confidence and cheer to many a penitent but believing heart.
Miss Elliott had no thought of fame when she wrote. She did not even think of whether any other person might care to make use of her words. She merely put her own heart on paper. The hymn was born of a personal experience. Because of this fact, it appeals to other hearts, which, like Miss Elliott’s, need the cleansing power of the blood of the Lamb.The King of Love My Shepherd Is Hymn