Song - Ninety And Nine
( Originally Published 1902 )
AT the East Northfield Conference of 1900, Mr. Sankey told this incident : Mr. Moody and I were riding in a railway carriage in Scotland, and I ad aloud to him a little poem that had caught my eye in the corner of the paper, and I had cut out for my scrap-book. We went to the great assembly hall of Edinburgh. It was in May, 1874. Mr. Moody and a number of others spoke that morning on the subject "The Good Shepherd." The last speaker was Dr. Horatius Bonnar. He spoke so softly and kindly that we could feel the presence of the Good Shepherd in our hearts. When he got through, Mr. Moody stepped down to where I was sitting and asked me if I had anything appropriate to sing. I could not think of anything but the twenty-third Psalm, and that had been sung three times before during the service. All at once the impression came to me to sing that little hymn I found on the train. But that was followed by the thought " How can I sing without a tune ?" Yet the impression came back to sing the song. I opened my book to where I had placed the little hymn and drew my thoughts away from the crowd. I uttered a short prayer to God to help me to sing in such a way that the people could hear and understand me. I started in on A flat, and God gave me the notes as I went along. I got through the first verse all right, but the thought came again, "How am I going to get through the next?" I uttered a silent prayer to God again, and he answered me. I got through the second all right. And by the time I got to the fifth verse I knew the tune, and the " Ninety and Nine " was born. From that day to this not a note has been changed.
Few hymns have brought more souls to Christ than Sankey's " Ninety and Nine." There is no such mockery nor injury to an evangelical service as the cold, mechanical mouthing of sacred songs by spiritless lips, and nothing more beautiful or helpful to the service than the hearty singing of songs born of and breathed by the Holy Spirit.