“I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever.” -Psalm 89:1
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 His presence still is with me;
By His guiding hand I’m 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.
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Story Behind the Song
Twenty-one-year-old Peter Bilhorn approached Pastor Francis Rowley one Sunday night after the evening service. The year was 1886; the place was North Adams, Massachusetts. Young Bilhorn had been converted the previous year, and already he was using his musical talents for the Lord. “Why don’t you write a hymn for me to set to music?” he asked Pastor Rowley.
Rowley’s response was this Gospel song, which originally began “Can’t you sing the wondrous story?” For Bilhorn, who was a singer as wella s a pianist and organist, it was an ideal personal testimony. As an unconverted teenager, he had started his music career singing in Chicago taverns. He understood the line “I was lost but Jesus found me—found the sheep that went astray.”
Bilhorn went on singing the wondrous story the rest of his life, writing two thousand songs, designing a portable folding organ for evangelistic use, assisting evangelists like Billy Sunday, and ministering around the world with Christian music.
[from The One Year Book of Hymns, July 10 entry]