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Hello Teachers

"Just as I am, without one plea, But that Thy blood was shed for me, And that Thou bidd'st me come to Thee, O Lamb of God, I come! I come!"

This is from the lyrics of an old hymn by Miss Charlotte Elliot. I'm asked by an English learner from Japan about how we should interpret "Just as I am, without one plea". I rather take it as "Though I am a mere person not worth being pleaded", but I am not sure whether this is right. Could you help me?

paco
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Hello Paco

I take it to mean "in my present state, good or ill, without making any special claims".

MrP
without defense / excuse / apology / appeal / justification

The corresponding slang expression is "warts and all".

The line as a whole is meant to underscore the unconditional acceptance of the Christian deity for his creations. I personally do not belong to a church group that uses this hymn, but I vaguely recall that it is used at funerals. I may have that wrong. Maybe someone who knows it with more accuracy can contribute.

CJ
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CalifJimwithout defense / excuse / apology / appeal / justification

The corresponding slang expression is "warts and all".

The line as a whole is meant to underscore the unconditional acceptance of the Christian deity for his creations. I personally do not belong to a church group that uses this hymn, but I vaguely recall that it is used at funerals. I may have that wrong. Maybe someone who knows it with more accuracy can contribute.

CJ

Possibly used at funerals. In addition, it is practically the "theme song" of Billy Graham, always sung as people are making their way down to the stage for their testimonial, confession of faith, dedication to Christ.
Hello, guys

Thank you for the kind replies. Now I feel I was completely wrong in the interpretation of "without one plea". From the comments of MrP and CJ, I now understand it means something like "without excusing myself for what I am" or "accepting the whole of me who has many 'bads' as well as goods".

But I still cannot understand the relation between "just as I am" and "without one plea". And I cannot grasp the whole sentence "just as I am, without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me". Does this mean something like "Although I am a person with many faults, Thou shed thy blood for me"? Or should I take the phrase "just as I am" as an adverbial clause to modify "I come!" and take the clause "but that they blood … and that Thou bidd'st …" as clauses modifying "without one plea"?

paco
Hello Paco

I take it to mean: "I come to you with all my imperfections, and without any special pleading on my own behalf, except to say that your blood was shed for my benefit, and you have commanded me to come to you, O Lamb of God."

So the speaker doesn't make a special plea for forgiveness of his sins; but he does gently remind his deity that he (his deity) did in any case promise to redeem his sins.

(It's a little like saying, "I'm not going to ask you for £100; but on the other hand, you did say you'd give me £100 whenever I wanted it...")

MrP
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MrPedantic
Hello Paco

I take it to mean: "I come to you with all my imperfections, and without any special pleading on my own behalf, except to say that your blood was shed for my benefit, and you have commanded me to come to you, O Lamb of God."

So the speaker doesn't make a special plea for forgiveness of his sins; but he does gently remind his deity that he (his deity) did in any case promise to redeem his sins.

(It's a little like saying, "I'm not going to ask you for £100; but on the other hand, you did say you'd give me £100 whenever I wanted it...")

MrP
Hello MrP

Thank you for the detailed explanation. I think I now grasped the meaning and the whole of the structure of this paragraph. Thank you again.

paco
It's a little like saying, "I'm not going to ask you for £100; but on the other hand, you did say you'd give me £100 whenever I wanted it..."

Delightfully irreverent, Mr. P.!

CJ
Hi Paco, you are much more of a teacher than I am but this question sounds very intriguing. So I did some looking around and, if you don't mind, here is what I came up with.

Since the song was composed in 1834, I am thinking the term 'plea' may have an older meaning that is not often used these days. The most plausible definition I came up with is:

From Miriam Webster:
3 : something offered by way of excuse or justification <left early with the plea of a headache>


Using the above definition of "excuse/justification" then you can say that "I come to you just as I am, with many imperfections. I am not making any excuses for my shortcomings. I am not trying to justify my wrongdoings. I admit I am a sinner. But by believing that you died for a sinner like me, I know I will be redeemed."

I think the theme of this hymn is repentance and forgiveness.
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