Charlotte Elliott

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This article is about the English poet. For the Scottish poet, see Lady Charlotte Elliot. For the botanist, see Charlotte Elliott (botanist).
Charlotte Elliott

Charlotte Elliott (March 18, 1789 – September 22, 1871) was an English poet and hymn writer.

Early life[edit]

Charlotte was the daughter of Charles Elliott, a silk merchant and his wife, Eling Venn[1] who married at Yelling on 20 December 1785. Eling Venn was the daughter of Rev. Henry Venn of the Clapham Sect and Eling Bishop and her brother was John Venn.

Charlotte's siblings were Henry Venn Elliott and Edward Bishop Elliott, who were associated with the curacies of St Mary the Virgin Church and St Mark's Church respectively. Henry Venn Elliott was also the founder of St Mary's Hall in Brighton.

"At an early age, Charlotte began to be aware of her sinful nature and of her importance to resist sin's enticements." Charlotte felt unworthy of God's grace while growing up, and was incapable of facing righteous and perfect God. She was continuously told by different pastors at the many churches she visited to pray more, study the Bible more, and perform more noble deeds.[2]


Charlotte spent the first 32 years of her life in Clapham. As a young woman, she was gifted as a portrait artist and a writer of humorous verse.[3] Then, in her early thirties, she suffered a serious illness that left her weak and depressed. She was an invalid and suffered much during the last 50 years of her life. In 1823, she moved to Brighton. She was a member of the Church of England. Charlotte was confined to her home and unable to attend church services.

During her illness, a well-known preacher, Cesar Malan of Switzerland, came to visit her. He asked her if she had peace with God. She was facing many inner struggles because of feeling useless, and she resented the question. She refused to talk about it that day, but a few days later called Dr. Milan and apologized. She said she wanted to clean up her life before becoming a Christian. Dr. Milan answered, "Come just as you are." She gave her life to Christ that day.[4] Some years later at age 45, Charlotte remembered those words wrote the five verses to "Just As I Am" in 1834.[5] In spite of being raised in a Christian home, she reflected on her conflicts and doubts and was unsure of her relationship with Christ. So she penned her words of assurance about Jesus loving her just as she was. William B. Bradbury composed music for her lyrics and published the song in 1849. This hymn has been translated into many languages all over the world. Tens of thousands of people have committed their lives to Christ during the playing of this hymn.

Miss Elliott wrote about 150 hymns and many poems, some of which were printed anonymously, with Just As I Am probably the best-known. Dr. Billy Graham wrote that the Graham team used this hymn in almost every one of their crusades. He said it presented "the strongest possible Biblical basis for the call of Christ." [6] Hymnody historian Kenneth Osbeck wrote that Just As I Am had "touched more hearts and influenced more people for Christ than any song ever written." [7] Christian writer Lorella Rouster wrote, "The hymn is an amazing legacy for an invalid woman who suffered from depression and felt useless in God's service."[8]

Dr John Julian wrote:

Though weak and feeble in body, she possessed a strong imagination and a well-cultured and intellectual mind..... Her verse is characterized by tenderness of feeling, plaintive simplicity, deep devotion, and perfect rhythm. For those in sickness and sorrow, she has sung as few others have done.

Charlotte Elliott died in Brighton in 1871. She is buried, along with her brothers, in the churchyard at St Andrew's Church, Hove.

See also[edit]

English women hymnwriters (18th to 19th-century)


  1. ^ "Miss Charlotte Elliott, 1789-1871.".  External link in |website= (help);
  2. ^
  3. ^ William J Petersen & Ardythe Petersen, The Complete Book of Hymns, Tyndale House, Carol Stream, IL, 2006, p.345.
  4. ^ William J. Petersen & Ardythe Petersen, The Complete Book of Hymns, Tyndale House, Carol Stream, IL, 2006, p. 345
  5. ^ The Billy Graham Team, Crusader Hymns & Hymn Stories, Minneapolis, MN, 1967, p.34-35
  6. ^ Crusader Hymns & Hymn Stories, p. 33
  7. ^ 101 Hymn Stories, Kregel
  8. ^ Lorella Rouster,"The Story of Just As I Am", Sunday School Times & Gospel Herald, Summer Quarter 2007, Union Gospel Press, Cleveland, OH, p. 50.
  • Julian, John (June 1907). A Dictionary of Hymnology. London: John Murray. p. 328. 
  • Christian Classics Ethereal Library. "Hymn Writers of the Church". Retrieved 2007-01-30. 
  • Wonderful Words of Life Songbook with devotions by Wiliam H. Goddard, copyright 1985 by Hope Publishing Co.

External links[edit]