The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Christmas-tide Poetry

By

Emily Elizabeth Steele Elliott
1836-1897

Source: Chimes of Consecration
London: Seeley, Jackson, and Halliday, 1875

Preface from Ms. Elliott:

Though now for the first time, together with hitherto unpublished poems, collected into a separate volume, several of the following have already appeared among other surroundings and at different periods. This must be accepted as an excuse should occasional repetitions of thought and expression seem to demand an apology.

If on some ears, freshly attuned to the glad harmonies of a life fully consecrated, “Chimes among the Shadows” should, even as those of childhood, fall as memorial music only, they may not as such be without their sacredness of association.

And in their hearts for whom, because of Light and Love behind the cloud, the consecrated path is shaded by bereavement, loneliness, suffering, may “the everlasting chime” make heavenly melody, until, in its fullest sense, the Day dawn, and the shadows flee away.

October, 1874.

 


Note:1

Emily E. S. Elliott was also the author of Chimes for Daily Service (1880). This volume contained 71 hymns arranged in two parts, the second of which was published separately as a large-print book for hospitals with the title Under the Pillow. Many of her hymns were written for the choir at St. Mark's Church, Brighton, England, where her father, Rev. Edward Bishop Elliott, was the rector; Rev. Elliott was the author of Horae Apocalypticae. Ms. Elliott was also the author of the translation "Stilly Night, Holy Night" (1858). See: Silent Night, Holy Night - Notes.

Associated with the Evangelical Party of the Anglican Church (also known as the "Low Church Party"), she spent her life working with rescue missions and children in their Sunday Schools. For six years she edited a magazine called the Church Missionary Juvenile Instructor.

She was a niece of Charlotte Elliott, author of the hymn, "Just as I Am." Two of Emily's uncles were Evangelical Party ministers, including Rev. Henry Venn Elliott, author of the hymn "Sun Of My Soul," based on a poem by Rev. John Keble in The Christian Year."

 


Contents

That the King of Glory may come in.”

Order Thou!”

The “Fear not” of Christmas-tide

A Christmas Message

The Old Year and the New.

"The Watchman said, ‘The Morning cometh.’ "

The Yule-log

New Year's Eve

The Child Jesus

Lord, what wilt Thou have Me to Do?”

New Year's Morning

November

Christmas


From
Part I. Chimes of Consecration

"That the King of Glory may come in.”

    Pages 24-25.

THOU did’st leave Thy throne and Thy Kingly crown,
    When Thou camest to earth for me;
But in Bethlehem’s home was there found no room
    For Thy Holy Nativity:
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus!
    There is room in my heart for Thee.

Heaven’s arches rang when the angels sang,
    Proclaiming Thy Royal degree;
But of lowly birth cam’st Thou, Lord, on earth,
    And in great humility:
O, come to my heart, Lord Jesus!
    There is room in my heart for Thee.

The foxes found rest, and the birds had their, nest
    In the shade of the cedar tree;
But Thy couch was the sod, O Thou Son of God,
    In the deserts of Galilee
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus!
    There is room in my heart for Thee.

Thou earnest, O Lord, with the living word,
    That should set Thy people free;
But with mocking scorn and with crown of thorn
    They bore Thee to Calvary:
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus!
    Thy cross is my only plea.

When Heaven’s arches shall ring, and her choirs shall sing
    At Thy coming to victory,
Let Thy voice call me home, saying, “Yet there is room!
    There is room at My side for thee:”
And my heart shall rejoice at the Bridegroom’s voice,
    When He cometh and calleth for me.

    See: Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne.

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From
Part II. Chimes Among The Shadows

 

“Order Thou!”

    Page 35.

WILL the New Year bring greetings
    Blithesome and gay?
Long looked-for meetings,
    Joy’s sunny day?
        Father, we know not!
        Coming joys show not:
Hear our entreatings—
    Choose Thou the way!

Will the New Year bring weeping—
    Sorrow’s increase?
Will the New Year bring sleeping—
    Quiet release?
        Father most tender,
        We can surrender
All to Thy keeping :—
    Grant us Thy peace!

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The “Fear not” of Christmas-tide

    Page 62.

MOURNER, Christmas comes for thee;
    Hear, with low and gentle tone,
One who whispers, “Look to Me!
    Hope, for thou art not alone!”

Not for thee the merry throng,
    Gladness making lonelier still;
Yet is thine the angels’ song,
    Echoed clear from Bethlehem’s hill.

Fear ye not!” from heav’n was spoken
    Long ago, on Christmas Eve;
Fear thou not !“ is still the token
    Which our waiting hearts receive.

Unto you the Christ is given!”
    Thus sang choirs full and clear;
Now a voice on Christmas Even
    Softly echoes, “He is here!”

He knows all—thy Lord divine,:
    Mourner, though thine eye be dim,
Look to Christ ;—His love is thine;
    Take thy Christmas joy from Him.

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A Christmas Message

Written for Hospital Distribution

    Pages 68-72.

FAR from home thy Christmas keeping,
    Sad through weariness and pain,
Thou, perchance, hast thought with weeping,
   
Christmas-time has come again !”

Dreams of well-remembered places
    Fill thy memory to-day;
Longing thoughts of loving faces—
    Thoughts of dear ones far away;

Of the little ones who gather
    Round the fire the boughs to weave,
Happy homes where mother, father,
Keep with them their Christmas Eve;

Of the days when thou wast singing
    Gleeful songs of other times,
While across the fields came ringing
    Far and near the Christmas chimes.

Say’st thou now, “Those joys are over;
    Not for me those home delights;
Dark the clouds that o’er me hover,
    Lone the days and long the nights?

Chiming bells and happy voices
    Fall but sadly on my ear;
All the world without rejoices;
    They are glad—while I am here.”

Are these thy words, oh, mourner?
    Are these thy thoughts, my friend?
Then listen now to a message
    Which home to thy heart we send,

In words which the wind came bringing
    From the hush of a quiet room,
Where voices were softly singing
    In the twilight’s gathering gloom.

And so sweet and clear was the music
    Of the message tender and true,
That now in the Christmas season
    We would sing it forth to you

Song of Christmas

IS there gladness in the house?
    Now lift your song once more;
For Christ, the new-born King,
Doth joy and gladness bring,
And His people praise and sing,
    And joyfully adore!

Is there weeping in the house?
    Oh weary, weep no more!
For you shines Christmas morn,
And Jesus Christ was born
To comfort those who mourn
    On sorrow’s lonely shore.

Is there scarceness in the house?
    Yet rise in hope once more!
For Christ, the Lord on high,
Who at Christmas time came nigh,
Is listéning to thy cry,
    And He Himself was poor.

Is there stillness in the house?
    A shadow on the floor?
Are there voices hushed and low
Where the mourners come and go?
Oh listen! ye shall know
    Christ, who wept, is at the door.

Now let our songs arise;
    And let our hearts adore;
For e’en in sorrow’s hours,
In sunshine and in showers,
The Christmas joy is ours,
    Abiding evermore!

Thus, my sister, thus, my brother,
    We to thee would comfort send,
Softly whisp’ring of Another—
    Of a nearer, better Friend.

He who at this season holy
    Came to earth thy grief to heal,
Led a sorrowing life and lowly;
    He hath suffered—He can heal.

Dost thou weep to be forgiven?
    From thy load of sins set free?
He, the Lord of earth and heaven,
    Bore their chastisement for thee.

Dost thou sigh through ceaseless tossing
    On a couch whence sleep has fled;
Grief and pain thy future crossing—
    Thine a wearied, aching head?

He has said, who once was weary,
   
Lean thy head upon My breast;
Life for Me was lone and dreary,
    I know all—yet bring thee rest.

I know all; I stand beside thee;
    On My heart thy burden lay;
Safe beneath My wings I hide thee,
    Keep with thee thy Christmas Day.

Trust Me! I will never leave thee;
    Love Me! for I love thee well;
Whisper forth the thoughts that grieve thee,
    Fear not sin and care to tell.

Christmas bells for thee are ringing,
    Christ, thy Lord, to thee draws near;
Angels hymns for thee are singing,
    Fear thou not: thy King is here!

Though thy tear-dimmed eyes be holden;
    Though My form thou canst not see:
I, who dwell in glory golden—
    I, the Lord, am close to thee!”

*    *    *    *    *    *

Therefore smile amidst thy weeping;
    Therefore hope through all thy fears;
Therefore let thy Christmas-keeping
    Bring thee sunshine through thy tears:

Cast on Jesus all thy sorrow,
    On His strength thy weakness stay;
Trust Him for a brighter morrow,
    Keep with Him thy Christmas Day!

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The Old Year and the New.

    Pages 78-79.

HUSH! the year is dying,
    Soft, without a sound;
Snow-flakes, shroud-like, lying
    On the earth around:
All its strivings over,
    All its story done;

*    *    *    *    *    *

Now—its mem’ries hover
    O’er a year begun.

Some of us were lonely
    In its brightest hours;
Sadly whispering, “ Only
    Let Thy will be ours!”
Some of us were tired
    In its summer days:
Weary, we desired
    Gladder, brighter ways.

We but seemed repeating
    Changeless rounds of life,
Daily, hourly meeting
    Well-known cares and strife.
Life a little colder,
    Fewer loving faces,
We but growing older
    In familiar places.

Now the year is over,
    Let us braver stand,
Seeking to discover
    His—our Father’s—hand:
Let us “follow wholly,”
    Though our sight be dim:
He would make us holy
    For a life with Him.

Every day He sends us
    He Himself prepares;
He Himself attends us
    Through its joys and cares;
His true love beseeching,
    Let us, then, draw near;
Seeking guidance, teaching,
    For the op’ning year.

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“The Watchman said, ‘The Morning cometh.’ “

    Pages 80-82.

WATCHMAN, what of the night?
    The earth is dark and cold:
And but faint is the starry light
    Which our waiting eyes behold.
Will the morning never come,
    With its beacons in the sky,
To dissipate the gloom
    Ere the Bridegroom shall draw nigh?
        Watchman, what of the night?

Oh, slumber not nor sleep,
    Though the night be dark and long;
But your solemn vigils keep
    Through the Church’s even-song:
Arise, and watch, and pray,
    For we see the light afar
That heralds in the day
    Of the bright and morning star:
        Watch and pray!”

We have pray’d and waited on
    For our absent King’s return;
But the hours have come and gone,
    And our tapers dimly burn:
Still dark is the midnight sky,
    There are enemies abroad,
And we hear the heathen cry
    Saying, “Where is now their God?”
        Watchman, what of the night?

O watching and waiting band,
    Now lift ye your heads on high,
For the morning is near at hand,
    And the Bridegroom is drawing nigh.
When the tapers are burning dim
    We know that the night is o’er;
And the chant of the morning hymn
    Shall echo from shore to shore:
        Watch and pray!”

We have wash’d our garments white
    From the stains of an evil world,
And we wait for the sun in his might,
    And the banner of God unfurl’d.
We are looking to Zion’s hill,
    And we know that the day is near;
But we watch for the summons still,
    And the voice that we long to hear.
        Watchman, what of the night?

There are banners of red and gold,
    Far out in the shining east;’
The curtains of night are uproll’d
    For the morn of the marriage-feast.
Still wait for the Bridegroom’s voice,
    Then go ye forth to meet Him;
Let the hearts of His saints rejoice
    As they lift their song to greet Him:
        Watch and pray!"

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From
Part III. Chimes From Heather-Bells; And Others

 

The Yule-log

    Pages 115-116.

WE have gathered the logs for the Christmas fire;
    Where are the children to bring them in?
Pile them steadily, higher and higher!
    Here is the youngest! let him begin!
Not a finer Yule-log burns in all the shire
    Than this, which the woodman has toiled to win.

Christmas was glorious in England olden:
    So they tell us in ancient rhymes;
Let us make the age that we live in golden
    For days to come live out “good old times:”
Our hist’ries, Heav’n’s message to Earth unfolden,
    Our gladness an echo of Christmas chimes.

Let us throw on the flames of our kindling fire
    Harsh remembrance and thought of feud;
Vengeful feeling, self—will’d desire,
    All that was bitter and coarse and rude;
And now, while the blaze rises higher and higher;
    Let our Christmas hearth be a holy rood!

Let us warm our hearts while we warm our fingers,
    Peace and goodwill holding gentle thrall;
While the Angels’ psalm on our memory lingers
    Let kindly words tell of love to all.
Open the door to the carol singers!
    Let the Bethlehem hymn sound from hearth and hail.

Thou hast no frown for us, cold December!
    Care and trouble aside we leave;
Golden the light of each glowing ember,
    While our voices we blend, and glad hopes we weave:
And for absent friends, whom we all remember,
    Let us breathe a prayer on this Christmas Eve!

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New Year's Eve

    Page 122

WITH echoing chime, in the midnight time,
    The good old year will end;
And with earnest care and with loving prayer,
    I think of thee, my friend.

Thine be joy in the year before thee,
    Thine be love from thy loved ones round;
Hope’s glad sunlight stream brightly o’er thee,
    Best and calm in thy home abound!

Be it thine in the year beginning,
    Grief to lessen—to lighten care;
Thine to shine on the sad and sinning
    With loving deeds, and with earnest prayer;

Thine to know, amid shades descending,
    One, whose presence shines bright and clear
Thine a gladness that knows no ending,—
    The changeless joy of a changeless year

Thus I think of thee, thus I pray for thee,
    Now at the old year’s end:
Heaven’s blessing light up thy way for thee!
    I wish thee joy, my friend.

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From
Part IV. Chimes Of Child-Land

 

The Child Jesus

    Pages 125-126.

THERE came a little Child to earth
        Long ago:
And the angels of God proclaimed His birth,
        High and low.
Out on the night so calm and still
        Their song was heard,
For they knew that the Child on Bethlehem’s hill
        Was Christ the Lord.

*    *    *    *    *    *

Far away in a goodly land,
        Fair and bright,
Children with crowns of glory stand,
        Robed in white;
In white more pure than the spotless snow,
        And their tongues unite
In the psalm which the angels sang long ago
        On Christmas night.

They sing how the Lord of that world so fair
        A Child was born,
And that they might a crown of glory wear,
        Wore a crown of thorn:
And in mortal weakness, in want, and pain,
        Came forth to die,
That the children of earth might for ever reign
        With Him on high.

He has put on his Kingly apparel now,
        In that goodly land:
And He leads to where fountains of water flow
        That chosen band:
And for evermore, in their garments fair
        And undefil’d,
Those ransom’d children His praise declare
        Who was once a Child.

    See:

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“Lord, what wilt Thou have Me to Do?”

    Pages 127-130

I.

O COULD I have been in the Holy Land
    When our dear Lord Christ was there,
Could I have been one of the chosen band
    Appointed His path to share,
My chief delight both by day and by night
    Had been for His wants to care.

I could not have flown, upon angel’s wings
    His ministry to fulfil;
I could not have brought Him costly things;
    But with reverent heart, and still,
I would daily have stored each sacred word
    Declaring the Master’s will.

And I might have sought through the fields of corn
    For the ripest and richest grain;
He would not have looked on my gift with scorn,
    Nor have spurned it with cold disdain;
But He would have smiled on the eager child
    Whose offering was not in vain.

Or I would have journeyed with willing feet
    To the hills of the trailing vine,
And the richest clusters, purple and sweet,
    Would have brought to their Lord and mine,—
In words repeating their lowly greeting,
   
The fruits of the earth are Thine!”

And oh, if my Lord had been passing near
    In the glare of the noon-tide heat,
With cool well-water, sparkling and clear,
    I had waited His steps to meet;
And with loving word, saying, “Drink, my Lord,”
    Would have knelt at the Saviour’s feet.

But the earth was orphaned when Jesus went;
    I wish we could see Him here!
Or at least that a message to me were sent,
    That an angel might once appear,
Who with gracious speech would appoint to each
    Some work for the Master here!

 

II.

A message has come from the Holy Land,
    From the King who once dwelt below,
A message for all who obedient stand,
    And are waiting to serve Him now;
O Christ our Lord, speak Thou the word,
    Be it ours Thy will to know!

I am walking still on the distant earth
    Where I once had my sad abode :
Not in easy paths, not in scenes of mirth,
    Not in pleasure’s ensnaring road,
But in lonely ways and through weary days,
    Still wanders the Son of God.

Men’ pass me by and they know me not,
    Though their welcome I still implore
In many a dreary and desolate spot
    By the voice of the sad and poor:
Who will not hear when their feet draw near
    Is turning Christ from the door.

Speak loving words by the lowly bed
    Of her who in sorrow lies;
With tender hand raise the drooping head
    And bring light into tearful eyes;
Still the Master needs such gentle deeds,
    And such lowly sacrifice.

The bread of life to the weary soul
    The Saviour still bids thee break;
And living water which maketh whole
    To the thirsty in spirit take:
Such offerings meet lie at Jesu’s feet,
    When given for His dear sake.

From thee let the tidings spread abroad
    Of the love which brings sinners nigh;
That He who once bow’d ‘neath our sorrow’s load
    Still heals as He passes by;
That life is given, and hope and Heaven,
    To all who for mercy cry.

Thus do His will while thy path still lies
    Through the earth which He trod for thee,—
For a little while, till thy waking eyes
    Shall the King in his beauty see;
And the glad sweet word be in glory heard
   
Thou hast done it unto Me!’”

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New Year's Morning

    Pages 131-134.

WE made our plan by the fire’s red light,
    As we sat on the hearth-rug, Janie and I;
We wanted so much to sit up last night,
    To sit up, and to see the old year die.

We thought how much we should like to hear
    If the clock sounded just as at other times,
And to wish each other a Happy New Year
    As the last stroke died of the midnight chimes.

But they all of them shook their heads, and said,
    How long we should both of us have to wait;
And that birds in their nests go so soon to bed,
    And how cross we should grow if we sat up late.

Yet, once we stayed up until half-past ten,
    When we went to the feast at the harvest-home;
We haven’t been much more cross since then,
    And it’s very seldom that New Years come.

But we couldn’t get them to give us leave,
    Though they let us stay until nearly nine;
And then—the last thing on our New Year’s eve—
    We peeped out to see if the night was fine.

We waited until we were left alone,
    And then in the darkness we raised the blind;
To have wakened and found the old year gone
    Without one good-bye, would have been unkind.

It seemed to us that the world outside
    Had never before been so full of sighing—
As if down the valley, and far and wide,
    Everything knew that the year was dying.

Round the church, from across the meadows,
    The wind was sounding like burial marches;
And where house-lights glimmered the muffled shadows
    Seemed stealing past towards the old grey arches.

And two stars like funeral tapers shone
    Through the clouds which had gathered across the sky;
Heavy cloud-blinds which would be let down,
    We said, when the good old year should die.

Then we promised each other to lie awake,
    And we tried very hard the watch to keep
But Janie’s eyes would grow heavy, and ache,
    And at last we both of us fell asleep.

And now, and now it is New Year’s day,
    And the snow has fallen all white and glistening,
Over the meadows and far away,
    A spotless robe for the New Year’s christening.

Have angels or fairies been here by night,
    To where earth and leaves were all brown and sodden?
I want Janie to wake and look out at the sight,
    At the pure white glitter of snow untrodden.

Untrodden now !—o’er the meadows hoary,
    Soon many feet will pass to and fro:
At the end of the day we shall read its story
    In foot-prints left on the spotless snow.

Every one who comes through the garden,
    Must leave his track on the path to-day;
A track which the clear sharp frost will harden,
    Till the sun shall have melted the ice away.

I think I am glad,—it seems almost right
    That things this morning should happen so,—.
That the world without should be hung in white,
    And not a foot-print have marked the snow.

I suppose they would call it a childish dreaming,
    Which grown-up people can’t stay to hear,
But the things outside in the world are seeming
    Like a picture to me of the opening year.

I mean, that it seems as if like the snow,
    An unwritten page were before us spreading;
The year is new and unsullied now—
    The path which we all shall so soon be treading.

A path in which each of us leaves a track,
    In which foot-prints of children’s feet remain;
A path over which we can’t travel back,
    For old years never are new again.

I think that the months pass so very slowly,
    Though one’s parents say that they fly too fast:
I wish I could keep this New Year holy,
    Better by far than I kept the last!

I can’t, without Him for my one true Guide,
    Whose face the children in heav’n behold:
Where the snow is untrodden, the path untried,
    He, only, aright can my steps uphold.

He can make me walk as His loving child,
    He can teach me to work for Him here below;
And oh, when my ways have been sin-defil’d,
    He Himself can wash me whiter than snow.

Janie, I’ve been the first to waken,
    And oh! such beautiful things are here! -
The mists and darkness their flight have taken,
    And I want to wish you a Happy New Year.

Wake up, Janie, and see the sight!
    Wake up, Janie, and look at the snow!
The good old year died at twelve last night,
    It’s a happy New Year to us, Janie, now!

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November

    Pages 157-158

THE winter is coming !“the children cry,
    And are thinking of frozen fingers:
Only here and there do the red leaves lie
    While the beautiful autumn lingers;
The days are growing so short and drear,
    And it’s cold getting up in the morning;
We wish that the summer were always here,
    Our gardens and fields adorning!”

The wind passes over the field forlorn
    And sighs out its tale of trouble:
I once was a field of golden corn,
    And now I’m a field of stubble!”
The birds have flown to the sunny South,
    And the Robin is grave and steady,
As if not caring to open his mouth
    Till his Christmas songs are ready.

Cheer up, children! behind the bars
    The fire glows in the twilight;
A few more weeks, and the Christmas stars
    Will be winking down through the skylight:
There’s a message for all of us,—you and me,
    In this brown and gray November;
There’s work for which we must all agree
    Ere the twenty-fifth of December.

See, bright are the garlands November weaves,
    For the year so quickly dying;
Let us gather up crimson and golden leaves
    Which here on the ground are lying:
Let us gather up many an earnest thought
    Which we had when the year was younger;
Shall we let them wither and come to nought,
    Or, living them, make them stronger,

And wreathe them now in the autumn drear,
    My little sisters and brothers,
Into deeds which shall gladden the fading year,
    Into gentle care for others?
There are many whose sorrows our love may lighten,
    The lonely, the sad, the weary;
And those who for others the way would brighten
    Will not find the winter dreary.

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Christmas

    Pages 159-160.

ECHO forth the Christmas carol,
    Now the holly garland weave;
Deck the church with green apparel,
    In the light of Christmas Eve.
        For Christmas comes with a song,
            And with words of holy cheer;
        With children’s laughter in happy throng,
            And with hopes for a glad New Year!

Brighten, with the Christmas greeting,
    Eyes through pain and weeping dim:
To the sad in heart repeating
    Echoes of the angels’ hymn.
        For their Christmas comes with a sigh,
            And with thoughts of other times;
        And many a dream of the past floats by
            With the sound of the midnight chimes.

Think of those who still are ours,
    Though in regions far away;
Sunny skies and starry flowers
    They would give for home to-day:
        For their Christmas comes where they roam
            With a thought of over the sea;
        And with tender dreams of the friends at home,
            And a soft—” Will they think of me ?”

Now, while friend with friend is meeting,
    While the glistering boughs they wreathe,
Send I forth for thee my greeting,—
    Loving prayers for thee I breathe:
        May thy Christmas come with a song,
            With the light of the Christmas Star;
        May visions bright o’er thy pathway throng,
            And joys from a Land afar!
        Such hopes for thee I weave,
            While the bells chime full and clear;
        And oh, may the light of thy Christmas Eve
            Shine soft o’er a glad New Year!

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Note:

1. Sources for biographical information about Ms. Elliott and her family include:

According to Julian, additional hymns which gained popularity during her lifetime included:

A lengthy biography of Charlotte Elliott and an analysis of "Just As I Am" can be found in Louis F. Benson, Studies of Familiar Hymns, Second Series. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1923, pp. 194-206. Return

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