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A Hymn History
“Rescue the Perishing”
by Fanny J. Crosby, 1820-1915
 
One of the most tragic words in our English language is the word perishing.  Yet it was also a word that was used by our Saviour on more than one occasion to describe people who are spiritually alienated from God (Matt 18:14; Luke 13:3, 5).
 
Fanny Crosby, blind since a tragic medical mistake at the age of six weeks, was known as the “queen of gospel music.”  Let’s listen to her account of how she wrote this challenging hymn:
 
I remember writing that hymn in the year 1869.  Like many of my hymns, it was written following a personal experience at the New York City Bowery Mission.  I usually tried to get to the mission at least one night a week to talk to “my boys.”  I was addressing a large company of working men one hot summer evening, when the thought kept forcing itself on my mind that some mother’s boy must be rescued that night or he might be eternally lost.  So I made a pressing plea that if there was a boy present who had wandered from his mother’s home and teaching, he should come to me at the end of the service.  A young man of eighteen came forward –
 
“Did you mean me, Miss Crosby? I promised my mother to meet her in heaven, but as I am now living, that will be impossible.”
 
We prayed for him and suddenly he arose with a new light in his eyes, “Now I am ready to meet my mother in heaven, for I have found God.”
 
A few days before, William Doane, composer of the music, had sent Fanny a tune for a new song he had written titled “Rescue the Perishing.”  It was based on Luke 14:23, “…Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in…” 
 
God had given Doane the melody and was about to provide the words through Fanny.  Following that service her poetic mind began to work and before she retired for the evening she had completed the verses:
 
                Rescue the perishing; care for the dying;
                Snatch them in pity from sin and the grave.
                Weep o’er the erring one; lift up the fallen;
                Tell them of Jesus the mighty to save.
 
                Rescue the perishing; care for the dying;
                Jesus is merciful; Jesus will save.