Rescue The Perishing

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.

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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