Behind the Hymn: Are you washed in the Blood
Are you washed in the Blood was written by Elisha Hoffman.
Elisha Hoffman was born on May 7, 1839 in Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania. He was a Presbyterian minister and composer of over 2,000 hymns and 50 song books during his 90 years.
Music historian Jacob Hall described Elisha Hoffman’s musical ability in the following manner, “When a melody is born in his soul, appropriate words seem to be immediately associated with the melody; or, when a conception in his mind crystallizes into a hymn, usually there is present the suggestion of a melody that will give adequate and fitting expression to the mental conception. There are exceptions, but this is the rule which governs him in his musical writings.”
The song first appeared in the 1878 hymnal Spiritual Songs for Gospel Meetings and the Sunday School, of which Hoffman was a co-editor. This was the only songbook of Hoffman’s the song appeared in, but it is not known why.
In 1881, Ira Sankey’s published the song in Sacred Songs and Solos.
Vachel Lindsay used the phrase “Are You Washed in the Blood?” in his poem “General Booth Enters into Heaven,” about The founder of the Salvation Army, William Booth.
Hoffman concludes the song with an invitation to accept Jesus as your Savior.