Samuel Crossman (1624–83), an Anglican priest, composed this poem in the latter part of the 17th century. It was not originally intended to be a hymn. Instead, Crossman’s poem first appeared as one of a collection of nine that he attached to a conduct book he had written for young men. Here he
told religious stories and offered encouragement for godly living that children might grow in the faith.
As a piece of devotional verse, Crossman’s poem has much in common with the religious lyrics of earlier 17th-century poets such as John Donne and, more importantly, George Herbert. The religious lyric sought not only to communicate a religious subject but also to foster personal meditation upon it.
Whether out in the world or gathered in worship, God’s people have been given a story to sing. Today, we sing again that story of God’s love for sinners in Jesus Christ.
Lord God, bless Your Word wherever it is proclaimed. Make it a word of power and peace to convert those not yet Your own and to confirm those who have come to saving faith. May Your Word pass from the ear to the heart, from the heart to the lip, and from the lip to the life that, as You have promised, Your Word may achieve the purpose for which You send it; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen
- David R. Schmitt
Reading through each verse of this hymn would be an excellent time of prayer and meditation on the forgiveness, life and salvation we have through Jesus.
The hymn is based on the following verses of scripture:
Romans 5:6, 10