There Were Ninety and Nine Lyrics
Author: Elizabeth Cecilia Clephane
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,
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,
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 thro’
ere he found his sheep that was lost.
Out in the desert he heard its cry —
sick and helpless, and ready to die,
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,
they’re pierced tonight by many a thorn.”
5 But all thro’ 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!
Rejoice, for the Lord brings back his own!”
There Were Ninety and Nine Hymn History
The words of this hymn, “There Were Ninety and Nine” were composed by Elizabeth Cecelia Clephane. The music was added to it by Ira D Sankey in 1874.
In 1874, Ira D Sankey and Dwight L Moody were conducting evangelistic campaign in Scotland. On their way to Edinburg, they caught a train in Glasgow.
In the train Ira D Sankey bought a newspaper in the hope of finding some American news. Unfortunately, he could not find any American news.
Just before they reached their destination, he glanced at the newspaper again and in the corner of the newspaper found a little piece of poetry that now forms this post’s hymn lyrics.
Excited Ira D Sankey read them to DL Moody who unfortunately could not hear him as his mind was over a letter.
On the second day of the meeting, DL Moody preached a sermon on the “Good Shepherd”. At the end Mr. Moody asked Ira D Sankey to sing a solo.
Unfortunately, Ira D Sankey could not think of an appropriate song he had to sing at that moment.
Then a crazy idea came to him, “sing the solo you read in the train”. Unfortunately, the poem he had read was just words. There was no music to it.
He, however, decided to play the organ in the apparently impossible task of composing a tune as he went along for words he had never sung before. Yet as he played, note by note was given to him the tune which everyone today knows so well.
At the end of the first verse a fresh difficulty presented itself. Could he accurately repeat the music he had just played? But that too he was enabled to do.
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