Hymn writer Charlotte Elliott (1789-1871) wrote “Just As I Am” in 1834, while sick and miserable and feeling useless at home in Brighton, England. Others, including her clergyman brother, were all out helping with a fundraiser to build a school.
Elliott, who had become an invalid at 33, was determined to write this hymn, which associates “healing of the mind” (verse 4) with a sense of salvation.
The hymn writer had a 40-year correspondence with Henri A. Cesar Milan, an evangelist, text and tune writer who helped her deal with her suffering.
For most of his life, Roger Knight didn’t sing.
Knight vividly remembers the day his music teacher walked to his desk, slammed his music book closed and said: “Will you be quiet?” The other second-graders laughed. He loved singing, but that day, humiliated and embarrassed, he stopped doing so in public. For decades while music played and others sang at church, Knight would move his lips, pretending to sing.
In 2002, Knight’s wife, Sally, and daughter, Becky Knight Lilly, joined the choir at Trinity Lutheran Church, Westbrook, Maine. His daughter repeatedly invited him to sing with them. Repeatedly and emphatically Knight said, “No.”
Yet Lilly knew that when he was a school bus driver he led songs with the kids during the drive. So she surprised him with a gift for his 67th birthday: three singing lessons with the congregation’s choir director, Betty McIntyre. Lilly told her father the lessons were nonrefundable.
Not wanting to disappoint his daughter, Knight reluctantly agreed to one lesson. To his amazement, McIntyre helped him relax and enjoy learning songs. Soon he began working on a hymn to offer as a solo. He joined the choir.
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© 2015 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers