I WILL SING THE WONDROUS STORY written in 1886
The year was 1886. The place was North Adams, Massachusetts. 21 year-old Peter Bilhorn (1865-1936), who had just become a Christian the year before, approached evangelist Francis Rowley (1854-1952) after a church service. Peter was young, but he was eager to use his musical talents for the Lord. The evangelist suggested he compose a song… and the evangelist told him he would then put words to that music.
Rev. Rowley didn’t know if he could write a good poem that could be set to music; he’d never tried. And he didn’t know if Peter could write a good tune, but Peter agreed to try. The following night, they got together, put their work together, and came up with this hymn.
This hymn originally asked the question, “Can’t you sing the wondrous story?” But, it was quickly changed to be a statement of commitment.
Peter, who was a singer as well as a pianist and organist, made this song his personal testimony. Just a couple years before, he was singing in Chicago taverns, so he understood the lines, “I was lost but Jesus found me – found the sheep that went astray.”
Peter went on singing the wondrous story the rest of his life, writing 2,000 songs, designing a lightweight folding organ for evangelistic use, assisting evangelists like Billy Sunday, and ministering around the world with Christian music.
This hymn is one of those unique hymns that changes timing between the verses and chorus.
Read this hymn, and – today – sing it or say it… but tell someone the wondrous story!
I will sing the wondrous story of the Christ Who died for me.
how He left His home in glory for the cross of Calvary.
Yes, I’ll sing the wondrous story of the Christ Who died for me,
sing it with the saints in glory, gathered by the crystal sea.
I was lost, but Jesus found me, found the sheep that went astray,
threw His loving arms around me, drew me back into His way. (Refrain)
I was bruised, but Jesus healed me, faint was I from many a fall,
sight was gone, and fears possessed me, but He freed me from them all. (Refrain)
Days of darkness still come o’er me, sorrow’s path I often tread,
but His presence still is with me; by His guiding hand I’m led. (Refrain)
He will keep me till the river rolls its waters at my feet;
then He’ll bear me safely over, where the loved ones I shall meet. (Refrain)