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Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior

Scripture References

Thematically related:

Further Reflections on Scripture References

Take note of Mark 10:46-52 and Romans 5:-13.
Stanza 2 calls for help with our unbelief, an echo of Mark 9:24.
In stanza 4, we hear echoes of John 6:60-71.

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Difficult times occur in the lives and communities of God’s people because this is a fallen world. The confessions demonstrate this perspective:
  • Belgic Confession, Article 15 teaches that “…by the disobedience of Adam original sin has been spread through the whole human race…a corruption of the whole human nature...” As a result, God’s people are “guilty and subject to physical and spiritual death, having become wicked, perverse, and corrupt in all [our] ways” (Article 14). In addition, “The devils and evil spirits are so corrupt that they are enemies of God and of everything good. They lie in wait for the church and every member of it like thieves, with all their power, to destroy and spoil everything by their deceptions” (Article 12).
  • Our World Belongs to God continues to affirm that “God has not abandoned the work of his hands,” nevertheless “our world, fallen into sin, has lost its first goodness...” (paragraph 4). And now “all spheres of life—family and friendship, work and worship school and state, play and art—bear the wounds of our rebellion” (paragraph 16).
Yet, in a fallen world, God’s providential care is the source of great assurance, comfort and strength. Through these thoughts, our trust in God is inspired.
  • Belgic Confession, Article 13 is a reminder that God’s providence reassures us that God leads and governs all in this world “according to his holy will…nothing happens in this world without his orderly arrangement.” Further, this Confession identifies that this “gives us unspeakable comfort since it teaches us that nothing can happen to us by chance but only by the arrangement of our gracious heavenly Father, who watches over us with fatherly care...in this thought we rest.”
  • Belgic Confession, Article 13, is a reminder that much is beyond human understanding and so “we do not wish to inquire with undue curiosity into what God does that surpasses human understanding and is beyond our ability to comprehend.”
  • In Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 9, Question and Answer 26 we testify that we “trust God so much that [we] do not doubt that he will provide whatever [we] need for body and soul and will turn to [our] good whatever adversity he sends upon [us] in this sad world.”
  • In Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 10, Question and Answer 28, we are assured that through our trust in the providence of God we can have “good confidence in our faithful God and Father that nothing in creation will separate us from his love.”
  • When we pray the Lord’s Prayer we ask not to be brought into the time of trial but rescued from evil. In doing so we ask that the Lord will “uphold us and make us strong with the strength of your Holy Spirit so that we may not go down to defeat in this spiritual struggle...” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 52, Question and Answer 127)
Belgic Confession, Article 26 speaks about the intercession of Christ as the ascended Lord. “We have no access to God except through the one and only Mediator and Intercessor, Jesus Christ the Righteous.” We, therefore, do not offer our prayers as though saints could be our intercessor, nor do we offer them on the “basis of our own dignity but only on the basis of the excellence and dignity of Jesus Christ, whose righteousness is ours by faith.” Because Jesus Christ is our sympathetic High Priest, we approach the throne “in full assurance of faith.”
 
No greater assurance can be found than that expressed in Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 1, Question and Answer 1: “I am not my own by I belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.”
 

In all difficult times, we eagerly await the final day when God “will set all things right, judge evil, and condemn the wicked” (Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 57).

Tune Information

Name
PASS ME NOT
Key
G Major or modal
Meter
8.6.8.6 refrain 4.5.8.5

Hymn Story/Background

Fanny Jane Crosby "set the standard for the ‘successful’ writing of gospel hymns," according to UM Hymnal editor Carlton R. Young. She was the author of over 8,500 gospel songs. 

Blind at six weeks of age, Crosby began composing texts at age 6. She began her study at age 12 at the New York School for the Blind, a school she later served as a teacher.

"Pass me not" (1868) first appeared in Songs of Devotion for Christian Associations (1870), a collection compiled by William H. Doane (1832-1915). The late hymnologist William J. Reynolds discovered that the inspiration for this hymn was the result of a visit to a prison by the poet during spring 1868. He notes: "After she had spoken and some of her hymns had been sung, she heard one of the prisoners cry out in a pleading voice, ‘Good Lord, do not pass me by’; Following Doane’s suggestion, she wrote a hymn that evening incorporating the line, "Pass me not, O gentle Savior." 

The hymn gained international recognition when introduced by Dwight L. Moody and Ira D. Sankey during their London revivals. According to Dr. Young, "This is Crosby’s first hymn to win worldwide acclaim."  - See more at:
— Michael Hawn

Author Information

Fanny (Francis) Jane Crosby (b. Brewster, New York, March 24, 1820; d. Bridgeport, Conneticut, February 12, 1915) attended the New York City School for the Blind, where she later became a teacher. She began writing poetry when she was eight and publishing several volumes, such as A Blind Girl, and Other Poems (1844). Married to musician Alexander Van Alstyne, who was also blind, Crosby began writing hymn texts when she was in her forties. She published at least eight thousand hymns (some under various pseudonyms); at times she was under contract to her publisher to write three hymns a week and often wrote six or seven a day. Crosby's texts were set to music by prominent gospel song composers such as William B. Bradbury, William H. Doane, Robert S. Lowry, Ira D. Sankey, and William J. Kirkpatrick. Her hymns were distributed widely and popularized at evangelistic services in both America and Great Britain. Crosby was one of the most respected women of her era and the friend of many prominent persons, including presidents of the United States.
 
A friend of several presidents, Crosby became one of the most important advocates for the cause of the blind in the United States, addressing a session of Congress on the topic. 

Her texts were set to the compositions of some of the most prominent gospel composers of the day including William Bradbury, William Doane, Robert Lowry and Ira Sankey. Crosby composed under a number of pen names. She married blind musician Alexander Van Alstyne, and British hymnals insist on using her married name, Frances Van Alstyne. 
— Bert Polman

Composer Information

An industrialist and philanthropist, William H. Doane (b. 1832; d. 1915) was also a staunch supporter of evangelistic campaigns and a prolific writer of hymn tunes. He was head of a large woodworking machinery plant in Cincinnati and a civic leader in that city. He showed his devotion to the church by supporting the work of the evangelistic team of Dwight L. Moody and Ira D. Sankey and by endowing Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and Denison University in Granville, Ohio. An amateur composer, Doane wrote over twenty-two hundred hymn and gospel song tunes, and he edited over forty songbooks.
— Bert Polman
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