Scripture Verse

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


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:

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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.