‘Pass me not, O gentle Savior’ | Faith | The Press and Standard
by The Press and Standard | July 2, 2017 5:00 am
Last Updated: June 28, 2017 at 1:55 pm
Recently on a sweltering hot afternoon, a celebration of life service was held at Isaiah United Methodist Church for one of my husband’s cousins, Wilhelmina Bright Young.
Although the heat was stifling outside, inside was an oasis of joy, peace, love, and celebration. What a home going service it was for this 94-year-old good and faithful servant!
Many witty and serious anecdotes were shared about her, and it was noted what a passion she had for teaching. She taught in both the private and public sectors in New York and South Carolina, spending over 50 years in the teaching profession before her retirement in 1994.
I got to know Ms. Young just in the last few months. She and my mother shared the same hall at Pruitt Health here in Walterboro. That is how I met her. She was very friendly and loved to talk.
Given her age, she had a very sharp mind and remembered much about the curricula that she taught and her family. Her command of the English language was exceptional. However, she did not mind letting you know what she thought.
Ms. Young was the last surviving sister of four who were all educators: Catherine Bright Bodison, Eliza Bright Williams and Earline Bright Gillard.
One evening after I had put in over 10 hours at school, I went to Pruitt to visit my mother. I took her to the lobby to sit and chat with some of the other ladies. I asked my mother if she wanted to sing some songs, and she said, “Yes.” So we sang several songs; some my mother sang with me, and some she sang without me.
Of course, some of the other ladies joined in, including Ms. Young. After having sung approximately 10 songs, I was exhausted because I had not been home since 7:15 that morning, and it was going on 7:30 that evening. I told Momma and the other ladies that I was tired, exhausted, and needed to get home. Ms. Young looked at me with this very serious expression on her face and said, “Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior” is my favorite song.” It didn’t take a rocket scientist to ascertain that she wanted me to sing it.
Though tired and worn out from a very long day, I sang it for her, and she, Momma, and the other ladies sang along with me.
How glad I am that I honored her unspoken wish, not knowing that just a couple of months later, I would be joining in with a trio to sing it at her home going service!
In Mark 10: 46-52 (ESV) the reader learns about blind Bartimaeus, who cries out to Jesus to restore his sight. “And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’
“And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ And Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him.’ And they called the blind man, saying to him, ‘Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.’
“And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. And Jesus said to him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ And the blind man said to him, ‘Rabbi, let me recover my sight.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Go your way; your faith has made you well.’ And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.”
Bartimaeus was not taking any chances on letting Jesus pass him by. He had no idea if and when Jesus would pass that way again. So he petitioned Jesus in a loud voice to restore his sight right then, though there were those who tried to silence him.
I can just hear this blind believer in Christ say with all the fight he could muster, “Pass me not, O gentle Savior, Hear my humble cry; While on others Thou art calling, Do not pass me by.”
This popular song was written by hymn writer and poetess Fanny J. Crosby, who was blind as well. Fanny Crosby wrote this song after reflecting on her visit to a prison.
Because of her fame, she was often invited to mission services. On one occasion, she participated in a mission service in a prison.
She recalls hearing men through the prison bars crying out saying, “Lord, do not pass me by.” She was so moved by this experience that she wrote this song and was quoted as saying, “I wrote the lines with the men’s pleading wail still in my ears.” (Enid and Austin Bhebe).
I am sure that Ms. Young had her reasons why “Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior” was her favorite hymn.
Whatever the need, whatever the desire, she knew that she could call on Jesus and He would come to her rescue.
Have a wonderfully blessed week, and never leave home without Him!
(Anna Bright is a minister and educator in Walterboro. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)