Behind the Hymn: Rescue the Perishing

Rescue the Perishing was written by Fanny Crosby in 1869.

Fanny Crosby

Fanny Crosby

This hymn became the theme song for the home mission’s movement.

Crosby was attending weekly meetings by the interdenominational New York City Mission in July 1869.  A young man was converted through her testimony, which inspired Crosby to write the words to Rescue the Perishing.

The title was based on a tune composer William Howard Doane had given her days earlier.  Doane used the title Rescue the Perishing for the tune he’d given her.

Jesus will save

Jesus will save

In his 1907 book, My Life and the Story of the Gospel Hymns, Ira Sankey recalled the origins of “Rescue the Perishing”:

“Fanny Crosby returned, one day, from a visit to a mission in one of the worst districts in New York City, where she had heard about the needs of the lost and perishing. Her sympathies were aroused to help the lowly and neglected, and the cry of her heart went forth in this hymn, which has become a battle cry for the great army of Christian workers throughout the world. It has been used very extensively in temperance work, and has been blessed to thousands of souls.”

The hymn has since become a staple in many hymnals.