Rescue The Perishing

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The following is Fanny Crosby’s own story of how this hymn came about:

As I was ad­dress­ing a large com­pa­ny of work­ing men one hot Au­gust ev­en­ing, the thought kept forc­ing it­self up­on my mind that some mo­ther’s boy must be res­cued that ve­ry night or per­haps not at all. So I re­quest­ed that, if there was any boy pre­sent, who had wan­dered away from mo­ther’s teach­ing, he would come to the plat­form at the con­clu­sion of the ser­vice. A young man of eight­een came forward and said, “Did you mean me? I have prom­ised my mo­ther to meet her in hea­ven; but as I am now liv­ing that will be im­pos­si­ble.” We prayed for him; he fin­al­ly arose with a new light in his eyes; and ex­claimed tri­umph­ant­ly, “Now, I can meet mo­ther in hea­ven; for I have found her God.”

A few days be­fore, Mr. Doane had sent me the sub­ject “Rescue the Per­ish­ing,” and while I sat there that ev­ening the line came to me, “Res­cue the per­ish­ing, care for the dyi­ng.” I could think of no­thing else that night. When I ar­rived it my home I went to work on it at once; and be­fore I re­tired the entire hymn was rea­dy for a mel­o­dy. The next day my words were writ­ten and for­ward­ed to Mr. Doane, who wrote the beau­ti­ful and touch­ing music as it now stands.

In November, 1903, I went to Lynn, Mass­a­chu­setts, to speak be­fore the Young Men’s Christ­ian As­so­ci­a­tion. I told them the in­ci­dent that led me to write “Res­cue the Per­ish­ing,” as I have just re­lat­ed it. Af­ter the meet­ing a large num­ber of men shook hands with me, and among them was a man, who seemed to be deep­ly moved. You may imag­i­ne my sur­prise when he said, “Miss Cros­by, I was the boy, who told you more than thir­ty-five years ago that I had wan­dered from my mother’s God. The ev­en­ing that you spoke at the mis­sion I sought and found peace, and I have tried to live a con­sist­ent Christ­ian life ev­er since. If we ne­ver meet again on earth, we will meet up yon­der.” As he said this, he raised my hand to his lips; and be­fore I had re­covered from my sur­prise he had gone; and re­mains to this day a name­less friend, who touched a deep chord of sym­pa­thy in my heart. It is these notes of sym­pa­thy that vi­brate when a voice calls them forth from the dim mem­o­ries of the past, and the music is ce­les­ti­al.

Lyrics: Fanny J. Crosby
Music: William H. Doane

Rescue the perishing, care for the dying,
Snatch them in pity from sin and the grave;
Weep o’er the erring one, lift up the fallen,
Tell them of Jesus, the mighty to save.

Refrain:
Rescue the perishing, care for the dying,
Jesus is merciful, Jesus will save.

Though they are slighting Him, still He is waiting,
Waiting the penitent child to receive;
Plead with them earnestly, plead with them gently;
He will forgive if they only believe.

Down in the human heart, crushed by the tempter,
Feelings lie buried that grace can restore;
Touched by a loving heart, wakened by kindness,
Chords that were broken will vibrate once more.

Rescue the perishing, duty demands it;
Strength for thy labor the Lord will provide;
Back to the narrow way patiently win them;
Tell the poor wand’rer a Savior has died.

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