Jesus Died for Our Sins
Elisha A. Hoffman was born in Pennsylvania to German parents, Francis A. and Rebecca A. Hoffman.
Elisha's father was a pastor for over 60 years and this probably influenced his decision to enter the ministry. After graduating from Union Seminary in Pennsylvania, he was ordained as a minister in 1868. As a pastor, he was committed to drawing his people into worship.
Elisha did not have formal training in music but he was brought up in a home full of sacred song. His family's daily worship and devotion time included singing hymns.
Elisha demonstrated a natural gift for music at a young age and developed a deep love of hymns. Elisha had composed his first hymn by the age eighteen.
Through his lifetime, he composed more than 2,000 gospel songs including "Are You Washed in the Blood?" which first appeared in the 1878 hymnal Spiritual Songs for Gospel Meetings and the Sunday School. It was included in Ira Sankey’s Sacred Songs and Solos, three years later but was dropped from all following versions of Hoffman’s songbook for unknown reasons. And since, has appeared in many hymn books.
In summary, this hymn asks the audience if they have been restored and redeemed by Jesus' power and love. Its powerful lyrics questions into the commitments of its audience to the Son of God. The song is concluded with an invitation to accept Jesus as the Savior.
An American poet, Vachel Lindsay, used a repeated phrase from this song in his poem “General Booth Enters into Heaven,” about the death of William Booth, Salvation Army founder.
“Booth led boldly with his big bass drum–
(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?)
The saints smiled gravely and they said: “He’s come.”
(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?)…”
Unlike other well-known hymns, Elisha was the author of both words and music.