The One Year Book of Hymns reminds us that
“Emily Elliott had a special concern for those who were sick. She wrote many poems and hymn texts especially for the infirm, publishing forty-eight of them in a little book entitled Under the Pillow. She may have been influenced by her aunt, Charlotte Elliott, who wrote: “Just As I Am.” Charlotte was also a prolific poet and was sickly for much of her life.
This particular hymn was written for children, to teach them about Jesus’ birth. It has a simple construction–each of the first four stanzas present a contrast with the word but. Given the first two line of each stanza, you might expect the world to welcome Christ, but no–it had no room for Him. The chorus is a natural response to the predicament, something that even a child could understand. Though the world had no room for the Lord, we have room for Him in our hearts.
The last stanza provides a stirring conclusion. The Lord, once rejected and displaced, will soon come in victory–and we should all be waiting.
Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown,
When Thou camest to earth for me;
But in Bethlehem’s home was there found no room
For Thy holy nativity.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee.
Heaven’s arches rang when the angels sang,
Proclaiming Thy royal degree;
But of lowly birth didst Thou come to earth,
And in great humility.
The foxes found rest, and the birds their nest
In the shade of the forest tree;
But Thy couch was the sod, O Thou Son of God,
In the deserts of Galilee.
Thou camest, O Lord, with the living Word,
That should set Thy people free;
But with mocking scorn and with crown of thorn,
They bore Thee to Calvary.
When the heav’ns shall ring, and her choirs shall sing,
At Thy coming to victory,
Let Thy voice call me home, saying “Yet there is room,
There is room at My side for thee.”
My heart shall rejoice, Lord Jesus,
When Thou comest and callest for me.