March 6, 2012

Hymn History: Lord, I'm Coming Home

Professor William H. Kirkpatrick had been writing Gospel music for many years, but perhaps no piece worked in such miraculous ways as the one he wrote in 1902.

Mr. Kirkpatrick was leading the music for a Methodist Camp Meeting near Philadelphia. God had given him reason to doubt the salvation of a certain soloist that had been chosen to help with the meeting. Each night, after singing his solo, the soloist would leave, never staying to listen to the message or participate in the fellowship of God’s people. Feeling burdened for this singer, Mr. Kirkpatrick began to pray for the working of the Holy Spirit in his heart.

Two days went by, and although the messages of the evangelists were stirring many people’s heart to decide for Christ, the singer failed to be moved. As Mr. Kirkpatrick continued to pray he questioned, “Will God ever hear my prayers?”

He was so burdened that he felt the Lord led him to perform a rather unusual plan. The Lord led him to write a special invitation song with the soloist in mind, and then have him sing it. He did this, and that very evening, the Lord worked. The soloist, instead of leaving directly as was his custom, stayed for the preaching after and was the first at the altar to accept Christ as Saviour. This new song that so worked in his heart was, “Lord, I’m Coming Home.”

George Sanville, a close friend of Mr. Kirkpatrick, tells the following interesting story about the Professor:

“The year was 1921. Kirk was at his desk in his study working on a poem which he would later put to music. Mrs. Kirkpatrick was tired and had retired for the night. She awakened sometime later and seeing that the light was still on in her husband’s study, she called to him, ‘Professor, it’s very late, don’t you think you had better come to bed?’ He replied, ‘I’m all right, dear, I have a little work I want to finish. Go back to sleep, everything is all right.’ Mrs. Kirkpatrick went to sleep, but when she awakened a second time and called, there was no response. She went to his study and found him sitting in his chair but leaning forward on his desk. Mr. Kirkpatrick had boarded the Heavenly Train for that continuing city of which he had so often written so beautifully.”

This is the poem that Mrs. Kirkpatrick found, so accurately depicting the life that the Professor lived dedicated to the Lord:

Just as Thou wilt, Lord, this is my cry
Just as Thou wilt, to live or die
I am Thy servant, Thou knowest best,
Just as Thou wilt, Lord labor or rest.

Just as Thou wilt, Lord, which shall it be?
Life everlasting waiting for me --
Or shall I tarry, here at Thy feet?
Just as Thou wilt, Lord, whatever is meet.

That was all. He left this life quietly, in full obedience of a complete surrender to the Will of God. “I will receive you unto Myself, that where I am, ye may be also.”

Adapted from Al Smith’s Treasury of Hymn Histories

I’ve wandered far away from God,
Now I’m coming home;
The paths of sin too long I’ve trod,
Lord, I’m coming home.

I’ve wasted many precious years,
Now I’m coming home;
I now repent with bitter tears,
Lord, I’m coming home.

I’m tired of sin and straying, Lord,
Now I’m coming home;
I’ll trust Thy love, believe Thy word,
Lord, I’m coming home.

My soul is sick, my heart is sore,
Now I’m coming home;
My strength renew, my home restore,
Lord, I’m coming home.

My only hope, my only plea,
Now I’m coming home;
That Jesus died, and died for me,
Lord, I’m coming home.

I need His cleansing blood I know,
Now I’m coming home;
Oh, wash me whiter than the snow,
Lord, I’m coming home.

Coming home, coming home,
Nevermore to roam;
Open wide Thine arms of love,
Lord, I’m coming home.


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