Jesus told the parable of the shepherd who left his ninety-nine sheep to go after the one lost sheep. {Luke 15:3-7}

Elizabeth Clephane lived in Melrose, Scotland during the 19th Century.  She was an invalid and wrote the hymn, based on the parable, to help children remember the truths of Jesus’s words.

Elizabeth Clephane

The text to her poem appeared in the newspaper, where it caught the attention of Ira Sankey, who was the music director for evangelist Dwight L. Moody.

Sankey was on his way to Edinburgh, Scotland, for an evangelistic meeting when he saw the poem.  He “tucked the poem in his vest pocket and thought no more of it”.

That afternoon as Rev. Moody concluded his message, he turned to Ira Sankey and “abruptly” asked that he sing an “appropriate solo”.

  1. 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.
  2. “Lord, Thou hast here Thy ninety and nine;
    Are they not enough for Thee?”
    But the Shepherd made answer: “This of Mine
    Has wandered away from Me.
    And although the road be rough and steep,
    I go to the desert to find My sheep.”
  3. But none of the ransomed ever knew
    How deep were the waters crossed;
    Nor how dark was the night that the Lord passed through
    Ere He found His sheep that was lost.
    Far out in the desert He heard its cry;
    ’Twas sick and helpless and ready to die.
  4. “Lord, whence are those blood-drops all the way,
    That mark out the mountain’s track?”
    “They were shed for one who had gone astray
    Ere the Shepherd could bring him back.”
    “Lord, whence are Thy hands so rent and torn?”
    “They’re pierced tonight by many a thorn.”
  5. And all through the mountains, thunder-riv’n,
    And up from the rocky steep,
    There arose a glad cry to the gate of heav’n,
    “Rejoice! I have found My sheep!”
    And the angels echoed around the throne,
    “Rejoice, for the Lord brings back His own!”

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