Scripture Verse

I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever.@Psalm 89:1

Introduction

portrait
Francis H. Rowley
(1854–1952)

Words: Fran­cis H. Row­ley, 1886. The orig­in­al lyr­ics be­gan, Can’t you sing the won­drous story… Ira San­key changed them be­fore pub­lish­ing the song in the 1887 ed­i­tion of his Sac­red Songs and So­los.

Music: Ban­neux Pe­ter P. Bil­horn, 1886 (🔊 pdf nwc).

Alternate Tune:

portrait
Peter P. Bilhorn
(1865–1936)

Origin of the Hymn

I was min­is­ter of the First Bap­tist Church of North Ad­ams [Mas­sa­chu­setts] at the time the hymn was writ­ten in 1886, as near­ly as I can rem­em­ber.

The church and the com­mun­i­ty were ex­per­i­enc­ing a per­i­od of un­u­su­al in­ter­est in re­li­gious mat­ters, and I was as­sist­ed by a re­mark­a­ble young sing­er named Pe­ter Bilhorn.

One night af­ter the close of the ser­vice he said, Why don’t you write a hymn for me to set to mu­sic? During the night these most un­pre­ten­tious and whol­ly un­wor­thy vers­es came to me.

Some years ago as I was go­ing down a Lon­don street one night about ele­ven o’clock, I di­scov­ered ahead of me a group of Sal­va­tion Ar­my peo­ple hold­ing a ser­vice, and as I came near­er to them it oc­curred to me that the hymn they were sing­ing was fa­mil­iar. Then it dawned upon me that it was this one.

Francis Rowley

Lyrics

I will sing the wondrous story
Of the Christ who died for me.
How He left His home in glory
For the cross of Calvary.

Refrain

Yes, I’ll sing the wondrous story
Of the Christ who died for me,
Sing it with the saints in glory,
Gathered by the crystal sea.

I was lost, but Jesus found me,
Found the sheep that went astray,
Threw His loving arms around me,
Drew me back into His way.

Refrain

I was bruised, but Jesus healed me,
Faint was I from many a fall,
Sight was gone, and fears possessed me,
But He freed me from them all.

Refrain

Days of darkness still come o’er me,
Sorrow’s path I often tread,
But the Savior still is with me;
By His hand I’m safely led.

Refrain

He will keep me till the river
Rolls its waters at my feet;
Then He’ll bear me safely over,
Where the loved ones I shall meet.

Refrain