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Posted by on Jun 3, 2015 in Hymn History | 0 comments

“Softly and Tenderly”

Softly and Tenderly


“Softly and Tenderly” is one of the best known and most used invitational hymns.  It was written in 1880 by Will Lamartine Thompson (1847-1909).  Thompson was born to successful businessman and politician, Josiah Thompson, and his wife, Sarah, on Nov. 7, 1847, in East Liverpool, Ohio.

Will Thompson

Will Thompson

Will showed a talent for music and songwriting at an early age and had written several secular songs by the time he graduated from high school.  He graduated from Mount Union College in Alliance, Ohio, in 1873, with a degree in business.  He then studied music at the New England Conservatory of Music and further studied music abroad in Leipzig, Germany.  He went on to start his own very successful business, Will L. Thompson & Company, which started as a music publishing company and eventually expanded to be a source for musical instruments and supplies.  Mr. Thompson was a devout Christian, and while attending one of D. L. Moody’s evangelistic meetings, he dedicated himself more to composing and promoting Christian music.  One of these compositions was a beautiful song with a great message that would become D. L. Moody’s invitation song at his meetings.  The song is entitled “Softly and Tenderly.”

Verse 1:

Softly and Tenderly Jesus is calling,

Calling for you and for me;

See, on the portals He’s waiting and watching,

Watching for you and for me.


Come home, come home,

Ye who are weary, come home;

Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,

Calling, “O sinner, come home!”

Verse 2:

Why should we tarry when Jesus is pleading,

Pleading for you and for me?

Why should we linger and heed not His mercies,

Mercies for you and for me?

Verse 3:

Time is now fleeting, the moments are passing,

Passing from you and from me;

Shadows are gathering, the deathbeds are coming,

Coming for you and for me.

Verse 4:

O for the wonderful love He has promised,

Promised for you and for me!

Though we have sinned, He has mercy and pardon

Pardon for you and for me.

Mr. Thompson visited D. L. Moody on his deathbed at his home in Northfield, Massachusetts, in 1899.  After Thompson was at first refused admittance by the doctor, Mr. Moody overheard them and asked for Mr. Thompson to be let in.  Moody then took him by the hand and said, “Will, I would rather have written Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling than anything I have been able to do in my whole life.”  What powerful praise from a great man of God about a powerful song that invites people to come home to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Isaac Rochester

Isaac Rochester is the instructor for guitar at

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