A leader at the Bowery Mission watched an intoxicated man stumble out of the stormy night – unshaven, disoriented and with clothes soiled and torn – and sink into a seat, not quite knowing where he had entered. As the service unfolded, the middle-aged man seemed to find interest in the singing, including this song among others, almost with an air of distant familiarity. As the leader, a former combat soldier, described the simplicity of the gospel and gave examples from his years of service, the stranger listened raptly to every word. At the close, he confronted the leader, querying about his military experience. Upon confirming a particular detail, he exclaimed: “I was your captain. Look at me today, and see what a wreck I am. Can you save your old captain? I have lost everything I had in the world through drink, and I don’t know where to go.” There, he met the Captain of salvation and was aided back into his old position through his former friends. He oft told his story and how much he loved the lines of “Rescue the Perishing.”
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.
Though they are slighting him, still he is waiting,
Waiting the penitent child to receive.
Plead with them earnestly, plead with them gently,
He will forgive if they only believe.
Down in the human heart, crushed by the tempter,
Feelings lie buried, that grace can restore.
Touched by a loving heart, wakened by kindness,
Chords that were broken, will vibrate once more.
Rescue the perishing, duty demands it;
Strength for thty labour the Lord will provice.
Back to the narrow way patiently win them;
Tell the poor wand’rer a Saviour has died.
This historical account is taken from the Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs hymnal, song 617, copyright 2018, all rights reserved.
Melody Publications' focus is to reawaken the melody of truth in believers' hearts and minds at home and abroad. Our prayer is that our work would aid churches and families as they sing "Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs" in praise and worship to our God.