From the archives at Melody Publications, we bring this touching account from an old hymn history book, part 1.
Charles Wesley’s hymn “Jesus, Lover of My Soul,” on a Sinking Ship.
“Years ago the following touching incident was published in the Baptist Reaper concerning two sisters:
‘In the midst of their conversation, at the dusk of the evening, they were alarmed by the stopping of the boat. As the girls and Mr. Percy, who were the only passengers on board, rushed to the deck, they were astonished to see the vessel abandoned by the captain and the whole crew, who had just seated themselves in the only boat which had been on board the steamer, and were pulling for the rocky coast, only about a mile distant. The agitation was fearful when the captain stated that the steamer had sprung a leak, and would sink in a few minutes.
“’Oh, stop, stop, for heaven’s sake, and save us, too!’ Cried Mr. Percy."
“’No,’ answered the captain, somewhat confused, ‘the boat will hold no more; some one will have to be lost.’"
Mr. Percy examined the steamer, and found that she was fast sinking, and that in a very few moments more there would be no possible way of escape. He looked this way and that, to find some means of fleeing to the shore, but he could see no hope. At length he found a small hatch which could easily be detached, and which with great skill of management, and with the kind favor of Providence, might save one. He threw it into the water and embarked upon it. It was with great difficulty that he kept afloat, and while he was within a few feet of the steamer, it sunk before his eyes. What passed through the minds of the girls, as they met death so suddenly and so terribly, we can only imagine. The period for Mr. Percy’s escape was so short, and so full of the most fearful excitement, that he can tell us but little about them. As the steamer was gradually sinking beside his slender raft, he saw them standing on the deck, with their arms around each other, and singing:--
As they were about finishing the verse, --
They sank to rise no more."
This account can be found on pages 442-445 in the “Illustrated History of Hymns and their Authors” by Edward McKean Long, published in 1875.