Come unto Me.@Matthew 11:28

El­len K. Brad­ford, 1878.

Ed­ward H. Phelps (🔊 pdf nwc).

portrait
Ellen K. Bradford (1839–1899)

We were hold­ing meet­ings in Spring­field, Mas­sa­chu­setts, in 1878. One day, at the noon meet­ing in City Hall, a mi­ni­ster rose on the plat­form and bore tes­ti­mo­ny to the way the Lord had blessed one of his sons, a Yale stu­dent.

My son, he said, “hap­pened to be seat­ed be­side a gen­tle­man from Eng­land in one of Mr. Moo­dy’s meet­ings. Tar­ry­ing for the af­ter-meet­ing, he was spok­en to by the gen­tle­man be­side him about be­com­ing a Chris­tian.

Af­ter half an hour spent in talk­ing they went out in­to the street, and the gen­tle­man said that he would glad­ly walk home with my son if he had no ob­je­ction, as he had no­thing else to do. Be­fore part­ing, the ear­nest Chris­tian work­er said he would like to of­fer one more pray­er for my boy.

Hold­ing the young man’s hand, he asked that the Lord would en­a­ble him to de­cide the great ques­tion that ve­ry night. With this pray­er they sep­a­rat­ed. The gen­tle­man left town the next day, and may ne­ver know how God heard and an­swered his pray­er.

“My son was grea­tly im­pressed. Ap­proach­ing the house, he stopped sud­den­ly, made a deep line across the gra­veled walk with his cane, and said, ‘Now, I must de­cide this ques­tion, for or against Christ, to­night. If I cross the line my life shall be for him; but if I go around it, it will be for the world.’

Stand­ing there con­sid­er­ing the great ques­tion with him­self for a half hour, at last he cried, ‘O God, help me to de­cide aright! Then he went bound­ing ov­er the line, and came in­to my room and said, ‘Fa­ther, I wish you would pray for me! I have de­cid­ed to be a Chris­tian.’” The min­is­ter said that his heart went out in sup­pl­ic­ation to God to keep and bless his boy.

This story af­fect­ed the au­di­ence to tears. One of the news­pa­per­men, Mr. E. H. Phelps, pro­pri­e­tor of one of the lead­ing pa­pers of the ci­ty, took down the fa­ther’s story and pub­lished it the next morn­ing. And Mrs. Brad­ford, of Palm­er, in the same state, af­ter read­ing the in­ci­dent in the pa­per, sat down and wrote Over the Line.

She sent the hymn to the ed­it­or of the pa­per, Mr. Phelps, and he at once set it to mu­sic. Three days lat­er he hand­ed the song to me. I adapt­ed it and had it pub­lished in “Gos­pel Hymns.” It has been blessed to thou­sands of souls all ov­er the world, lead­ing to the con­ver­sion of ma­ny.

Sankey, pp. 216–17

Oh, tender and sweet was the Master’s voice
As He lovingly called to me,
Come over the line, it is only a step—
I am waiting, My child, for thee.

Refrain

Over the line, hear the sweet refrain,
Angels are chanting the heavenly strain:
Over the line, why should I remain
With a step between me and Jesus.

But my sins are many, my faith is small;
Lo! the answer came quick and clear;
Thou needest not trust in thyself at all,
Step over the line, I am here.

Refrain

But my flesh is weak, I tearfully said,
And the way I cannot see;
I fear if I try I may sadly fail,
And thus may dishonor Thee.

Refrain

Ah, the world is cold, and I cannot go back,
Press forward I surely must;
I will place my hand in His wounded palm,
Step over the line, and trust.

Over the line, hear the sweet refrain,
Angels are chanting the heavenly strain:
Over the line, I will not remain;
I’ll cross it and go to Jesus.