A Promise to Mom

Song: "Rescue the Perishing"


Previously published in Pulpit Helps, August 2007

"Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting. He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed, shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him" (Ps. 126:5-6).

Fanny Crosby was deeply interested in Gospel work among poor men who were down and out. One evening in New York, she addressed a large company of men in the slum area. Her heart was moved at the close of her address as she heard a youth, eighteen years of age, come forward and say, "I promised my mother to meet her in heaven, but the way I am now living, that will be impossible."

After prayer was offered for him, he arose with a new light in his eyes. He exclaimed that since he had now found God, he would be meeting his mother in heaven. As the service continued, her poetic mind began to work, and before she retired at home that evening she had completed the verses to a "battle cry" for the great army of Christian soldiers. Think of the lost as you sing:

"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."

To this writer, the third verse of this song is the greatest bit of poetry ever written:

"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 are broken will vibrate once more."

The Moody and Sankey meetings helped to popularize many of Fanny Crosby's 8,000 hymns and Gospel songs in this country and in England. Her motto was, "I think that life is not too long, and therefore, I determine that many people read a song who would not read a sermon."
 
Frances Jane Crosby was born in Putnam County, New York, on March 24, 1820. Her sight was destroyed at the age of six weeks because of the misapplication of a poultice on her eyes. She was blessed with a marvelous disposition and accepted her handicap with an unusual display of courage.
 
Fanny Crosby was born again in 1851. Seven years later she married a blind musician, Alexander Van Alstyne. Her cheerfulness and courage coupled with the simple, child-like trust in divine watch-care enable her to write such heart-warming hymns as "Blessed Assurance," "Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross," and "Safe in the Arms of Jesus."
 
Friday morning, February 12, 1915, just prior to her ninety-fifth birthday, Fanny Crosby realized to the fullest the words she had written and recited many times, "and I shall see Him face to face."

Reflection: Here is another example of a person who would not sit down and feel sorry for herself. In her blindness she thought constantly of others. We, like she, can find peace only as we turn aside to help someone else. All of our service to Christ must be done for others

© Lindsay Terry. Used by permission.

Lindsay Terry has been a song historian for more than 40 years, and has written widely on the background of great hymns and worship songs including the books I Could Sing of Your Love Forever (2008) and The Sacrifice of Praise (2002).

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