By Hymn Stories
James Nicholson, c. 1828-1876
"Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow" (Psalm 51:7)
God's people have been placed in their particular circle of influence so they can demonstrate purity and a concern for righteousness. If we do not fulfill this role, who will? It is easy, however, to become so accustomed and hardened to the lust and sin all about us that we lose that fine edge of our Christian witness. In fact, without God's daily cleansing and renewal, we are easily infiltrated with and influenced by the very lifestyle that we reject in others.
Unconfessed sin becomes a destructive poison in our fives, not only spiritually but also emotionally and physically. Repentance and confession are always the starting points for a restored fellowship with God. Like the psalmist David did in his prayer in Psalm 51, we all need to experience God's cleansing and forgiveness. Only then will we be effective for God in helping others and directing sinners to Him (Psalm 51:13).
This is another fine hymn text written by a Christian layman. James Nicholson spent his entire life as a clerk in the post office in Philadelphia, yet he was always active in the work of the Wharton Street Methodist Episcopal Church. The hymn was first published in a pamphlet titled "Joyful Songs" in 1872. The hymn's popularity greatly increased with its inclusion in the well-known Gospel Hymns series published by Sankey and Bliss. It has since provided a musical prayer that needs to be expressed by every Christian on a daily basis:
"Lord Jesus, I long to be perfectly whole; I want thee forever to live in my soul, break down ev'ry idol, cast out ev'ry foe--Now wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.
"Lord Jesus, look down from Thy throne in the skies and help me to make a complete sacrifice. I give up myself and whatever I know--Now wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.
"Lord Jesus, for this I most humbly entreat; I wait, blessed Lord, at Thy crucified feet. By faith, for my cleansing I see Thy blood flow--Now wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.
"Lord Jesus, Thou seest I patiently wait; come now and within me a new heart create. To those who have sought Thee Thou never saidst "No"--Now wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.
"Refrain: Whiter than snow, yes, whiter than snow--Now wash me and I shall be whiter than snow."
For Today: Psalm 32:3-5; Isaiah 1:18; Romans 3:23-25; 1 Corinthians 6:11
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any area of sin. Confess it to God and claim His forgiving grace.