Are You Washed in the Blood is another ‘power’ gospel song. When I was little, I loved (nearly) all the songs we sang in church. My favorites were the ones that made your toes tap, but that wasn’t always necessary. Washed in the Blood is more of an inspirational song, but it still touches something deep inside. There’s a very basic message in the song, one of the most deeply rooted themes of Christianity. Jesus is the way of salvation, and by him we are made acceptable in the sight of God. He shed his blood for us. You can believe or not, that’s your choice. But it’s hard to listen, really listen, to these words and not be moved.
Written by Elisha A. Hoffman, and published in 1878, this song has been a staple in every church I can ever remember regularly attending. Monique is Catholic by upbringing, I’m Baptist (but the laid-back, easy-going kind) yet we both know the lyrics and music. Elisha Hoffman was a pastor and song-writer. With over 2,000 songs to his credit, you know he was committed. With so many of them still cherished today, you know he was very good at writing. Aside from a (very) brief stint in the Union Army… he barely made it a month before his discharge… Elisha spent his life in the service of his faith. Seeing that he lived to be 90, that’s quite a lifetime of ministering. Even so, writing over 2,000 songs is an amazing accomplishment. If you’re not yet impressed, bear in mind, Pastor Hoffman also edited 50 song books! There’s a really good article about him at Wordwise Hymns, if you’d like to read more.
One of the things I loved most about the small southern gospel churches we favored in my youth was the spirit of the church. In this instance, not Spirit with a capital ‘S’, but spirit, lower-case ‘s’. The heart and enthusiasm everybody had. The best churches accepted anybody, and left judging to God. If you wanted to sing out loud, you could, and people would bless you for it. Even if you couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket. To this day, it truly does my heart good to see someone with a mountain of faith (but a molehill of talent) stand up and sing. I love and admire their conviction. Sometimes I get over-concerned about what people think of me. There’s a lesson here that really means a lot to me.
When a great talent stands up and sings, it’s a treat to hear. But it shouldn’t be about talent, it should be about faith. When a person of great faith sings, it gives wings to my own spirit. For me, music has always been a form of worship. Being able to play is a gift I cherish. There are plenty of people more gifted, more skilled, more talented. I just have to remember, it’s not a competition. It’s about taking joy in what I’ve been given.
Oh, and Mom? Dad? That includes you two for buying that first piano and making me take lessons when I was 6. Maybe the lessons didn’t last, but the joy of playing the piano has been with me all my life… and y’all got me started.