e-a-hoffman.jpg I’m a little late in the day with this week’s addition to my series Then Sings My Soul: The Hymns of My Youth, but better late then never… and it’s a good one, too. I’ve hit a couple of bluegrass hymns so far, and this is another solid entry onto that sub-list, with lyrics and music by Eli­sha A. Hoff­man in 1878, who also wrote “Down at the Cross” and “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.”

Hoffman was born May 7, 1839 at Orwigsburg, PA, the son of a min­is­ter, and himself at­tend­ed Un­ion Sem­in­ary in New Ber­lin, Penn­syl­van­ia. He was or­dained in 1868 and worked with the Evangel­ic­al As­so­ci­a­tion’s pub­lish­ing arm in Cleve­land for 11 years. He also pas­tored in Cleve­land and Graft­on, Ohio, in the 1880s as well as at the First Presby­ter­i­an Church in Ben­ton Har­bor, Mich­i­gan around the turn of the cen­tu­ry and in Ca­bery, Ill­i­nois in the early 20th century. Over his life­time, he wrote more than 2,000 gos­pel songs and hymns. He died No­vem­ber 25, 1929 in Chicago, and is buried there at Oak Woods Cemetary.

I am tempted to want to criticize the lyrics of this hymn for their assumption of meaning behind the phrase “washed in the blood,” as it seems so clearly an evangelistic hymn. How many of the unevangelized today would be comfortable with the phrase, whether or not they know its meaning? On the other hand, the hymn is clearly a product of its time, which was solidly in an era of Christendom where most attendees even at a “revival meeting” would have known the language and understood its meaning. With this realization, it serves as a reminder of how far our culture has shifted.

Are You Washed in the Blood?

Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

Are you washed in the blood,
In the soul cleansing blood of the Lamb?
Are your garments spotless? Are they white as snow?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

Are you walking daily by the Savior’s side?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Do you rest each moment in the Crucified?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

Refrain

When the Bridegroom cometh will your robes be white?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Will your soul be ready for the mansions bright,
And be washed in the blood of the Lamb?

Refrain

Lay aside the garments that are stained with sin,
And be washed in the blood of the Lamb;
There’s a fountain flowing for the soul unclean,
O be washed in the blood of the Lamb!

Refrain

Of course, this selection reminds me of a specific bygone time as well, as it features among these hymns of my youth.