Anne Steele, "The Savior calls"

One of the very few of Anne Steele’s hymns that are still sung today was originally entitled “The Savior’s Invitation,” and was based on Jesus’ words in John 7:37, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink” (KJV). The Saviour calls—let every Ear Attend the heavenly Sound; Ye doubting Souls, dismiss your Fear, Hope smiles reviving round.

For every thirsty, longing Heart, Here Streams of Bounty flow, And Life, and Health, and Bliss impart, To banish mortal Woe.

Here, Springs of sacred Pleasure rise To ease your every Pain, (Immortal Fountain! full Supplies!) Nor shall you thirst in vain.

Ye Sinners come, ‘tis Mercy’s Voice, The gracious Call obey; Mercy invites to heavenly Joys,— And can you yet delay?

Dear Savior, draw reluctant Hearts, To Thee let Sinners fly; And take the Bliss Thy Love imparts, And drink, and never die.[1]

Based on Jesus’ open invitation to sinners to come to him and drink, that is, find eternal life, Steele urges “every Ear” to “attend” to Christ’s heavenly invitation. He calls all who are “thirsty” and “longing” to come to him, where they will find “Life, and Health, and Bliss,” in sum, “Springs of sacred Pleasure” that will ease every woe. This invitation is a command—“the gracious Call obey”—but Steele is also aware that “the thirsty, longing Heart” is not sufficient in itself to come to Christ. In the final analysis it is a “reluctant Heart,” filled with doubt and fear. Hence, she prays, “Dear Savior, draw reluctant hearts.”

Anne was an eighteenth-century woman, and much has changed since her day: fashion and food, technology and government. But the human heart has not changed and nor has Jesus—“the same yesterday and today and forever.” And so we pray the same for our family and friends and neigbours and those we have never seen.

[1] A Collection of Hymns Adapted to Public Worship (3rd ed.; Bristol: W. Pine, 1778), Hymn 145.