Though your sins . . . are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. ~ Isaiah 1:18
Now admit it. Every once in a while we get bored, distracted, drowsy, daydream or otherwise have difficulty maintaining a high level of interest during the pastor's message. We react and deal with it in a variety of ways...99.9% of them not very constructive.
One Sunday morning in 1865 Elvina Hall was seated in the choir loft of the Monument Street Methodist Church in Baltimore listening to the pastor's sermon. As he rambled on, something he said caused her to begin thinking about all that Christ had already done to provide our salvation. The words to this song came to her and the only paper she had to write on was the flyleaf of a hymnal. She jotted down the verses and after the service she gave them to her pastor, George W. Schrick.
In the words of church organist, John T. Grape: “Our church was undergoing repairs, and the cabinet organ was placed in my care. Thus afforded a pleasure not before enjoyed, I delighted myself in playing over some of our Sunday school hymns. I determined to give tangible shape to a theme that had been running in my mind for some time…I made it a matter of prayer and study and gave to the public the music now known as “All to Christ I Owe.” It was pronounced very poor by my choir and friends, but my dear wife persistently declared that it was a good piece of music and would live. Soon after, the Rev. Schrick called on me to select anything new that I had to offer. On hearing this piece he expressed his pleasure with it and stated that Mrs. Elvina M. Hall had written some words that would just suit the music. I gave him a copy of it and it was soon sung in several churches here in Baltimore and well received. At the suggestion of friends I sent a copy to Professor Theodore Perkins and it was published in his 1868 collection, “Sabbath Carols.” It has been going ever since. I trust that it has not failed to accomplish some good to my fellowmen for the glory of God.”
So God took Elvina Hall's distraction; Rev. George Schrick's inspiration; organist and choir director John T. Grape's music, and gave us…
I hear the Savior say:
“Thy strength indeed is small.
Child of weakness, watch and pray.
Find in Me thine All in All.”
Jesus paid it all; All to Him I owe.
Sin had left a crimson stain;
He washed it white as snow.
- Elvina M. Hall, 1865
Copied from Sing to the Lord © 1993 by Lillenas Publishing Company
Hymn commentary courtesy J. D. Sherrow