The Ninety and Nine is a beautiful song with a great message.

The words and history of the song below are from the Cyber Hymnal.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Words: Eliz­a­beth C. Cle­phane, 1868.

Music: Ira D. Sank­ey, Sac­red Songs and So­los.

Sankey spot­ted these words in a Bri­tish news­pa­per while on an evan­gel­ism tour in Scot­land with Dwight Moo­dy. He tore the po­em from the pa­per, put it in his pock­et, and for­got about it. Lat­er that day, at the end of their ser­vice in Edin­burgh, Moo­dy asked Sank­ey for a clos­ing song. Ira was caught by sur­prise, but the Ho­ly Spir­it re­mind­ed him of the po­em in his pock­et. He brought it out, said a pray­er, then com­posed the tune as he sang. Thus was born “The Nine­ty and Nine.” This was Sank­ey’s first at­tempt at writ­ing a hymn tune. Not bad for a first try!

Many years ago there lived at North­field [Mass­a­chu­setts] an in­fi­del; and one day, while all the neigh­bors had gone to the meet­ing at the church, he sat at home alone feel­ing dis­sa­tis­fied with him­self and all the world in gen­er­al. But he heard Mr. Sankey sing­ing “The Nine­ty and Nine”; and there was some­thing in the hymn that he could not es­cape. The mel­o­dy rang in his ears, and the thought of the lost sheep trou­bled him that night, and the next, and the fol­low­ing day un­til the ev­en­ing, when he could stand it no long­er. He went to the meet­ing and re­turned a saved man.

A few years lat­er he was tak­en ill. One day he said to his wife, “Raise the win­dow; I hear ‘The Nine­ty and Nine.’” Then he list­ened at­tent­ive­ly un­til the last notes of the hymn had died out; and turn­ing from the win­dow he said, “I am dy­ing; but it is all right, for I am rea­dy. I shall ne­ver hear ‘The Nine­ty and Nine’ again on earth, but I am glad that I have heard it once more to­day.”

Crosby, p. 323

There were ninety and nine that safely lay
In the shelter of the fold.
But one was out on the hills away,
Far off from the gates of gold.
Away on the mountains wild and bare.
Away from the tender Shepherd’s care.
Away from the tender Shepherd’s care.

“Lord, Thou hast here Thy ninety and nine;
Are they not enough for Thee?”
But the Shepherd made answer: “This of Mine
Has wandered away from Me;
And although the road be rough and steep,
I go to the desert to find My sheep,
I go to the desert to find My sheep.”

But none of the ransomed ever knew
How deep were the waters crossed;
Nor how dark was the night the Lord passed through
Ere He found His sheep that was lost.
Out in the desert He heard its cry,
Sick and helpless and ready to die;
Sick and helpless and ready to die.

“Lord, whence are those blood drops all the way
That mark out the mountain’s track?”
“They were shed for one who had gone astray
Ere the Shepherd could bring him back.”
“Lord, whence are Thy hands so rent and torn?”
“They are pierced tonight by many a thorn;
They are pierced tonight by many a thorn.”

And all through the mountains, thunder riven
And up from the rocky steep,
There arose a glad cry to the gate of Heaven,
“Rejoice! I have found My sheep!”
And the angels echoed around the throne,
“Rejoice, for the Lord brings back His own!
Rejoice, for the Lord brings back His own!”



  1. Thank you, Peggy, for stopping by my blog to leave a kind comment. 🙂

    Though sometimes we may be tempted to think we’re ‘not so bad’, the Lord had to suffer like that for all whom He saves. But for His atoning love, all would be lost.

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