Saved By a Song

Used by permission of The Christian Banner – A Civil War magazine.

It was Christmas Eve, 1875. Ira Sankey was traveling by steamboat up the Delaware River. Mr. Sankey had been asked to sing. He wanted to sing a Christmas song but was driven almost against his will to sing Savior Like A Shepherd Lead Us. All were moved by the rendition.
After the song ended a man with a rough, weather-beaten face came up and asked Mr. Sankey, “Did you ever serve in the Union army?” “Yes,” answered Mr. Sankey, “in the spring of 1862.” “Can you remember if you were ever doing picket duty on a bright, moonlit night in 1862?” “Yes,” answered Mr. Sankey, very much surprised.
“So do I,” answered the stranger, “but I was serving in the Confederate army. When I saw you standing at your post I said to myself, ‘That fellow will never get away from here alive.’ I raised my musket and took aim. At that instant, just as a moment ago, you raised your eyes to Heaven and began to sing. I took my finger off the trigger.
‘Let him sing his song to the end,’ I said to myself, ‘I can shoot him afterwards.’ But the song you sang then was the song you sang just now. When you had finished your song it was impossible for me to take aim at you again. I thought, the Lord, who is able to save that man from certain death, must surely be great and mighty, and my arm, of its own accord, dropped limp at my side.
Since that time I have wandered about far and wide, but when I just now saw you standing there singing as on that other occasion, I recognized you. Then my heart was wounded by your song. Now I ask that you help me find a cure for my sick soul.”
Deeply moved, Mr. Sankey threw his arms about the man who in days of the war had been his enemy. And that night the stranger found the Good Shepherd as his Savior.