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And by the Holy Ghost our love
For Thee and Thine inflame.
Revive Thy work, O Lord,
And give refreshing showers;
The blessing shall be ours.
“WHERE IS MY WANDERING BOY TO-NIGHT?
This remarkable composition-words and music by Rev. Robert Lowry-has a record among sacred songs like that of "The Prodigal Son” among parables.
A widowed lady of culture, about forty years of age, who was an accomplished vocalist, had ceased to sing, though her sweet voice was still in its prime. The cause was her sorrow for her runaway boy. She had not heard from him for five years. While spending a week with friends in a city distant from home, her hidden talent was betrayed by the friends to the pastor of their church, where a revival was in progress, and persuasion that seemed to put a duty upon her finally procured her consent to sing a solo.
The church was crowded. With a force and feeling that can easily be guessed she sang “Where Is My Boy Tonight ?" and finished the first stanza. She began the second,
Once he was pure as morning dew,
As he knelt at his mother's knee,
No face was so bright, no heart more true,
And none were so sweet as he;
O where is my boy tonight?
O where is my boy tonight?
O where is my boy tonight? -a young man who had been sitting in a back seat made his way up the aisle and sobbed, “Mother, I'm here!” The embrace of that mother and her long-lost boy turned the service into a general hallelujah. At the inquiry meeting that night there were many souls at the Mercy Seat who never knelt there before and the young wanderer was one.
Mr. Sankey, when in California with Mr. Moody, sang this hymn in one of the meetings and told the story of a mother in the far east who had commissioned him to search for her missing son. By a happy providence the son was in the houseand the story and the song sent him home repentant.
At another time Mr. Sankey sang the same hymn from the steps of a snow-bound train, and a man between whose father and himself had been trouble and a separation, was touched, and returned to be reconciled after an absence of twenty years.
At one evening service in Stanberry, Mo., the singing of the hymn by the leader of the choir led
to the conversion of one boy who was present, and whose parents were that night praying for him in an eastern state, and inspired such earnest prayer in the hearts of two other runaway boys' parents that the same answer followed.
There would not be room in a dozen pages to record all the similar saving incidents connected with the singing of “Where Is My Wandering Boy?” The rhetoric of love is strong in every note and syllable of the solo, and the tender chorus of voices swells the song to heaven like an antiphonal prayer.
Strange to say, Dr. Lowry set lightly by his hymns and tunes, and deprecated much mention of them though he could not deny their success. An active Christian since seventeen years of age, through his early pulpit service, his six years' professorship, and the long pastorate in Plainfield, N. J., closed by his death, he considered preaching to be his supreme function as it certainly was his first love. Music was to him “a side-issue,” an “efflorescence,” and writing a hymn ranked far below making and delivering a sermon. “I felt a sort of meanness when I began to be known as a composer," he said. And yet he was the author of a hymn and tune which “has done more to bring back wandering boys than any other” ever written.*
*Where Is My Boy Tonight" was composed for a book of temperance hymns, The Fountain of Song, 1877.