Joseph Hart (1712-1768) was born in London, where he became an independent Calvinist preacher converted by the Moravians. This hymn never made it into any of the collections published by John and Charles Wesley, perhaps because Hart was critical of one of John Wesley’s sermons in a tract he published, “The Unreasonableness of Religion, Being Remarks and Animadversion on the Rev. John Wesley’s Sermon on Romans 8:22”, however it was included in Spence’s Pocket Hymn-Book (1785); Carlton Young notes that Hart’s “hymns ranked with those of Isaac Watts in popularity among independent hymn writers. Later in the 19th century, Ira D. Sankey, the musical partner of evangelist Dwight L. Moody, included this hymn in his famous Gospel Hymns, Nos. 1 to 6 Complete (1894). The anonymous refrain, beginning with “I will arise and go to Jesus,” was found in Southern hymnbooks as early as 1811, and the opening line changed from “poor and wretched” to “poor and needy” by Augustus Toplady1.
Come, you sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, joined with pow’r.
I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Saviour,
O there are ten thousand charms.
Come, you thirsty, come, and welcome,
God’s free bounty glorify;
True belief and true repentance,
Every grace that brings you nigh.
Come, you weary, heavy laden,
Bruised and broken by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all.
View Him prostrate in the garden;
On the ground your Maker lies.
On the bloody tree behold Him;
Sinner, will this not suffice?
Lo! Th’incarnate God ascended,
Pleads the merit of His blood:
Venture on Him, venture wholly,
Let no other trust intrude.
Let not conscience make you linger,
Nor of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him.