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‘Only a Sinner’

Only a Sinner was written and recorded some years before the First World War. Despite its rather plodding and mournful tune it is easy to imagine that religious hymns like this became popular again once men found themselves confronted by the horrors of modern warfare.

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‘Only a Sinner’

Only a Sinner was written and recorded some years before the First World War. Despite its rather plodding and mournful tune it is easy to imagine that religious hymns like this became popular again once men found themselves confronted by the horrors of modern warfare.


Year: 1912

Length: 02:26

Production Company: unknown

Credits: Written and composed by James M. Gray and Daniel B. Towner / Vocalist: Marsh Little

Source: National Film and Sound Archive of Australia

Catalogue Reference: NFSA title 1001431


People: Written and composed by James M. Gray and Daniel B. Towner / Vocalist: Marsh Little

Location: Recorded in the United Kingdom

Tags: James M. Gray, Daniel B. Towner, Marsh Little, hymn, religion, music, popular music, Australia

Subject: religious


Image Title: Only a Sinner sheet music

Image Source: http://www.hymnary.org/text/naught_have_i_gotten_but_what_i_received?extended=true&sort=text-refrainFirstLine


A deeply religious man, James M. Gray was the author of about 20 books, as well as many tracts and pamphlets on Christianity. He wrote the lyrics to Only as Sinner in 1912, referencing the Gospel of Luke and Ephesians. The lyrics make it plain that nothing a person can do could ever make him or her acceptable to God. It is only God’s unmerited grace that redeems the sinner. 

Only a Sinner – lyrics  

Naught have I gotten but what I received; 

Grace hath bestowed it since I have believed; 

Boasting excluded, pride I abase; 

I’m only a sinner, saved by grace! 

Only a sinner, saved by grace! 

Only a sinner, saved by grace! 

This is my story, to God be the glory— 

I’m only a sinner, saved by grace! 

Once I was foolish, and sin ruled my heart, 

Causing my footsteps from God to depart; 

Jesus hath found me, happy my case; 

I now am a sinner, saved by grace! 

Tears unavailing, no merit had I; 

Mercy had saved me, or else I must die; 

Sin had alarmed me fearing God’s face; 

But now I’m a sinner saved by grace! 

Suffer a sinner whose heart overflows, 

Loving his Saviour to tell what he knows; 

Once more to tell it would I embrace— 

I’m only a sinner saved by grace!