Scripture Verse

He rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Matthew 18:13

Introduction

portrait
Elizabeth C. Clephane
1830–1869

Words: El­iz­a­beth C. Cle­phane, 1868.

Music: Ira D. San­key, Sac­red Songs and So­los 1874 (🔊 pdf nwc).

If you know where to get a bet­ter pho­to of Clephane,

illustration
The Lost Sheep
Alfred U. Soord
1868–1915

Origin of the Hymn

In Fer­gus, On­tar­io, Ca­na­da, lies the bo­dy of the man for whom was writ­ten the hymn The Nine­ty and Nine…[George] Cle­phane, who was known as a re­mit­tance man, came to Ca­na­da to try farm­ing about the year 1842.…His ef­forts at farm­ing were not a suc­cess, a fail­ure which led to in­dul­gence in strong drink. The ha­bit grew with his de­spon­den­cy, and dur­ing one of these bouts, while liv­ing with a me­di­cal doc­tor friend at Fer­gus, he died.

His sis­ter Eli­za­beth had her bro­ther in mind when she penned these now fa­mous lines which were not in print un­til af­ter her death. They were…first pub­lished in The Child­ren’s Hour and thence co­pied in Va­ri­ous ma­ga­zines. It was Mr. San­key who saw the po­em in a ma­ga­zine, cut it out and put it in his note case.

At an ev­an­gel­is­tic meet­ing in Ed­in­burgh [Scot­land], in 1874, a sis­ter of George and Eli­za­beth Cle­phane hap­pened to be in the au­di­ence when Mr. Moo­dy—af­ter his talk on the Good Shep­herd—re­marked to San­key, Sing some­thing ap­pro­pri­ate, San­key. San­key said he prayed for a tune. The an­swer came as he put his hands on the or­gan keys, and sang for the first time the ten­der lines of the hymn penned by a sis­ter for bro­ther in far-away Ca­na­da.

Blanchard, pp. 95–96

Lyrics

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.

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.

But none of the ran­somed ev­er knew
How deep were the wa­ters crossed;
Nor how dark was the night
The Lord passed through
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.

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 are pierc­ed tonight by many a thorn;
They are pierc­ed tonight by ma­ny a thorn.

And all through the moun­tains, thun­der riv­en
And up from the roc­ky steep,
There arose a glad cry to the gate of Hea­ven,
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!