Hymn Story: Bring them In
Robert Raikes is known as the “founder of the modern Sunday School”. He had a driving desire for the spiritual and social conditions of the poor illiterate children in 18th Century England.
This was a time when education was reserved for the wealthy and four out of five children received no education. Child labor was also heavily exploited during this time. Raikes worked tirelessly to provide Sunday School for the children, in which they received spiritual education, alongside the basics of English and math, one day a week.
Later, John and Charles Wesley, founders of the Methodist Church, took up the cause and established Sunday Schools in first England and after the Revolutionary War in America.
The Sunday School workers began to recognize that music was a natural way to teach the children and provide scriptural and life lessons for them to easily remember. This is a song which was written for Sunday School sometime in the early 1880s.
Many sources state the author of the hymn is unknown while other sources, including hymnologist Kenneth Osbeck, states the author is Alexcenah Thomas.
Alexcenah Thomas was aware of this movement, which inspired her to pen the hymn, Bring them In. She was born in 1857 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was a teacher and later a principal. She died sometime around 1910 and had written over forty hymns, including Peace Be Still, Beautiful Star, Easter Bells are Sweetly Pealing, Blessed Harvest Home, The Precious Promise, Tell the Whole World the Story, and ‘Tis a Story Full of Wonder.
William Ogden provided the lyrics and the song was first published in 1885.
William Ogden began studying music at the age of eight and within a decade was serving as choir master in his home church. While serving in the American Civil War, he organized a male choir. After his time in service he studied with music masters such as Lowell Mason, Thomas Hastings and Benjamin Baker, President of the Boston Music School. He published his first songbook in 1870 and taught throughout the US and Canada, before becoming superintendent of music in the public schools of Toledo, Ohio in 1887. He died in Ohio on October 14, 1897, four days after his 56th birthday.
The song reminds us to bring in the lost.