THERE WERE NINETY AND NINE
A tombstone in the graveyard of St.
In Memory of
Oldest Son of
Andrew Clephane, Esq.
Late Sheriff of
George Clephane having failed to make good in his
native Scottish town, decided to go to
When the news of his death reached his Scottish home, the whole family felt the shame and tragedy of the circumstances connected with his entrance into another world. None felt his death more keenly and deeply than his youngest sister, a true Christian girl of twenty-one. She went up to her room, closed the door, and sobbed bitterly. As she became calmer she took up a sheet of paper. She loved her prodigal brother and she felt that God must do so too. She had faith that her Redeemer had answered her prayers. Perhaps in his dying hours her dear brother had looked, with the eye of faith, at the Cross and found pardon and peace. Slowly her fingers closed round her pen and she began to trace on the paper the deep, innermost thoughts of her soul. These were the first lines she wrote:
“There were ninety and nine that safely lay
In the shelter of the fold:
But one was out on the hills away,
Far off from the gates of gold;
Away on the mountains wild and bare,
Away from the tender Shepherd’s care.”
She was half ashamed of her poem when finished, and locked it
away in her desk so that none other eye should see it. The writing of it had relieved her feelings
and she felt more resigned and peaceful. The years passed on. Elizabeth
Clephane died; but the grave in
One afternoon in 1874 two gentlemen stood on the station
At the noonday service in the Free Assembly Hall both Mr.
Moody and Dr. Bonar spoke on the
subject of “The Good Shepherd”. After the latter
speaker had thrilled the immense audience with his earnest and eloquent
message, Mr. Moody turned to his colleague and said, “Have you a
solo appropriate for this subject with which to close the service?” He was greatly troubled because he could think
of nothing suitable. Then a voice said, “Sing the hymn
you found on the train.” But this was impossible, for he had no
tune for it. The impression came strongly
on him that he must sing it and that God would provide the music. Placing the little newspaper slip before him
he lifted his heart to God for inspiration. He struck a chord in A
flat and began to sing. Note by note was
given to the singer and when he had finished a great sigh seemed to go up from
the meeting. Mr. Moody left the pulpit
and looking at the cutting said, “Mr. Sankey,
where did you get that hymn? I never heard the like of it in my life.” Sankey who was in
tears replied, “Mr. Moody, that’s the hymn I read to you in the train, but you did not hear.” Then Mr. Moody
raised his hand, pronounced the Benediction, and the meeting closed. Thus Moody’s great work in
-The Gospel Herald.
* * *
THE LOVE THAT WILL NOT LET ME GO
It was in March, 1904, and the sunshiny scene still lives in my memory. I had left my hotel and made my way through the picturesque crowds in the streets of A-. The Sunday was essentially a French one. By force of habit I had turned aside that day from globe-trotting pursuits and taken my place in the Church of the United Frees among some threescore of God’s people, whose mother tongue was English.
What the minister preached about I really forgot. Perhaps that was not the preacher’s fault. He was a pastor there for his health, and displayed no special vigour. The Order of Service was all lifeless, formal, uneventful, messageless, comfortless. Even the words and music of the hymns had failed to stir deeps of my nature that day. I blame no one. Perhaps I was not in a receptive spirit. I cannot tell; but so it was. On went the minutes, and I was not sorry.
The hour had at last fled. Invocation, lessons, prayers, sermon,
collection, announcement, were all over. What had been a most uneventful service to me
was now to be punctuated by a hymn and the benediction. The minister announced George Matheson’s “0 Love That Will Not Let Me Go.”* When a much-loved hymn is announced in
* The writer of this touching song, Rev. Geo. Matheson, was engaged to a young lady whom he loved dearly. A tragedy overtook his life - he began to go blind. When the young lady discovered this, she returned the engagement ring. When he received this stunning blow, he was crushed, and from the depths of his sorrow he wrote, “Oh Love that will not let me go, I rest my weary soul in Thee.”
While the minister was reading the first verse, I noticed a man of perhaps fifty change seats with the lady organist. It was nothing to mark. “He is the local organist,” I thought, “and the lady is a visitor.” Suddenly the notes were touched, and the little American organ seemed to have been “born again”. Bar followed bar. We all brightened up. There was a master at the keys. We stood and sang:
“0 love that will not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.”
Was the change in me or in my environment? I cannot tell. The lost chord seemed to have been found. If a seraph had come to wake me with a song of
“0 light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to thee
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.”
I could not fail to notice the deep emotion of the consul’s wife, for she stood in the next pew in front. She had ceased to sing, her trembling was manifest. The music was like the sound of many waters. The volume of it increased. The third verse was reached:
“0 joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain
And feel the promise is not vain
That morn shall tearless be.”
With a strange suddenness the consul’s wife fell on her knees and was convulsed with emotion. With her hands she covered her face while the majestic music swept on. The husband knew not what to do, for all eyes were turned toward his wife. With inborn calmness and strong sympathy he then bowed in prayer at his wife’s side. The sight was beautiful, and there were many wet eyes near where I stood. But what of the organist? He was in rhapsody. Down his furrowed face tears made their way. His head of curls added impressiveness to the scene. Bending over the keys, he poured out his very soul. Of time and space he seemed ignorant. The emphasis was that of intense feeling, born of a rare experience, controlled by musical ability - both instrumental and vocal.
When we reached the last verse I, for one, wished blind Matheson had provided us with more, and yet we might not have been able to bear it.
“0 cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.”
The scene continued the same to the end, only with deeper feeling. Great was the relief when the last note died away, and the minister, as awed as the rest of us, pronounced the benediction. So great was the solemnity of the occasion that no one wanted to disturb the silence by rising from their knees.
When the congregation did rise to disperse, several went forward to thank the organist. I was one of them. In the group were several Americans, and one said to the organist, still bathed in tear marks: “We knew your wife.” The one answer was a quiet smile, followed by a quick retirement from the church. This man did not feast on plaudits or compliments. He was gone before we could say a tithe of what we felt.
In the aisles and at the church door I learned that the man
who had waked up everybody’s soul was a distinguished Christian singer of
I wended my way hotelward, but my thoughts were on the wings of the music, “blossoming red”. Such music (that lost chord), set to such words, I can never hope to hear again until I stand within the gates of the New Jerusalem.
- The British Weekly.
I SHALL BE SATISFIED
Not with my life-work finished, past,
Shall I be “satisfied” at last
Not with the gifts I brought my Lord,
Nor with my knowledge of His Word;
Not with the witness these lips gave
Unto the One Who died to save;
Not with my service, nor my love,
Shall I be “satisfied” above.
Faulty and weak is my poor “best”,
Needing cleansing with all the rest.
Only from Christ comes grace and power,
Sure “sufficiency” every hour.
HE is my glory and my Song –
HE, Who has led me all alone;
And, in the Light no cloud can dim,
I shall be “SATISFIED” with HIM.