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“Throw Out the Lifeline”
By Edwin S. Ufford; 1851-1929
 
During the latter years of the nineteenth century, the remains of several destroyed ships could be seen clearly at low tide a little offshore from Westwood, a small seacoast town near Boston, Massachusetts.  A Baptist pastor, Edwin S. Ufford, liked to stroll along the shore and gaze out to sea.  In his mind’s eye he could see the panic-stricken victims as they desperately strove for life itself.  “I could see a storm, a spar, a shipwrecked sailor drifting out beyond human reach,” he said.
 
Later he visited several life-saving stations and watched men practice rescue techniques that all too often were needed along that rocky coast.  He heard the leader bark out the order: “Throw out the lifeline!”  He was shown the lifeline.
 
Several men recounted dramatic rescues in which the lifeline was used.  Those impressions, coupled with the scenes of rotting boat hulls, produced the hymn, “Throw Out the Lifeline.”  In fifteen minutes, Mr. Ufford wrote these memorable words:
 
                Throw out the lifeline across the dark wave;
                There is a brother whom someone should save.
                Somebody’s brother! Oh, who then will dare
                To throw out the lifeline, his peril to share?
 
                                Throw out the lifeline! Throw out the lifeline!
                                Someone is drifting away.
                                Throw out the lifeline! Throw out the lifeline!
                                Someone is sinking today.
 
There is an urgency in the other stanzas to win souls while we can, for soon the season of rescue will be over. 
 
Several years after writing the hymn, Mr. Ufford was invited to an evangelistic campaign in California to tell the story of his hymn.  He was able to take a real visual aid with him as he had a piece of the actual lifeline used when the Elsie Smith sank off of Cape Cod in 1902.  After the meeting, a survivor from the Elsie Smith happened to be in attendance and identified himself as being one of those who had been saved by that very lifeline.