This hymnal is the one used in my home church up until I was about 15 years old. I don’t know how long they used it before that, but the copyright is dated 1937 with Roman numerals.
Since I am trying to alternate between old hymns and contemporary music, I decided to look through it to see if anything jumped out at me. Well, that worked. Everything jumped out at me! Unfortunately, when I tried to get a picture of the hymn I wanted to use, the camera did it’s thing again. Looks like it’s time for a new one.
Written by P.P. Bliss, in 1871, Almost Persuaded was often used as the Invitation Hymn; the song after the sermon, when the preacher invited anyone who was not already a Christian to come forward, make his or her confession of faith, and get baptized.
“Almost persuaded” now to believe;
Almost persuaded” Christ to receive;
Seems now some soul to say,
Go, Spirit, go Thy way,
Some more convenient day
On Thee I’ll call.”
“Almost persuaded”, come, come today;
Almost persuaded”, turn not away;
Jesus invites you here,
Angels are lingering near
Prayers rise from hearts so dear;
O wanderer, come!
“Almost persuaded”, harvest is past!
Almost persuaded”, doom comes at last!
Almost” cannot avail;
Almost” is but to fail!
Sad, sad, that bitter wail—
Almost”, but lost!
While the song does issue an invitation in the second verse, the theme of the song is that some one had an opportunity to come to the Lord, missed it, and was forever lost. It’s heartbreaking.
Phillip Paul Bliss (1838-1876) wrote both the words and music to Almost Persuaded. Bliss was one of several 19th century hymn composers, including Fanny Crosby, Charles Wesley and Ira Sankey, whose hymns make up much of our hymnals today. He was a friend of evangelist D.L. Moody and sometimes took part in Moody’s revival meetings. Wholesome Words.org has links to several biographical sketches on Bliss as well as Moody’s sermon on the day after Bliss and his wife were killed in a train wreck.
Hymntime.com says this of his death
“December 29, 1876, Ashtabula, Ohio. Bliss and his wife died in a tragic train wreck caused by a bridge collapse. He survived the initial impact, but went back into the flames in an unsuccessful attempt to rescue his wife.”
On the same page, there is a quote from Fanny Crosby’s autobiography.
“The night before that terrible railroad accident at Ashtabula…he said to his audience, ‘
I may not pass this way again’; then he sang a solo, ‘I’m Going Home Tomorrow’. This indeed proved prophetic of his own home going.”
Bliss was 38 years old when he died. His wife Lucy was 35. They left two small children. A list of the known songs of P.P. Bliss is found here. The list is a long one. Only God knows how many he would have written had he lived.
In another biography listed on the Wholesome Words site, author Ed Reese says this about Almost Persuaded.
“Outside of Just as I Am, this has been the most successful gospel invitation song ever written. In the early 1870’s, Mr. Bliss was listening to a sermon by Rev. Brundage, a friend of his, in a little church in the east. The preacher closed his appeal with, “He who is almost persuaded is almost saved. But, to be almost saved is to be eternally lost!” These words impressed Bliss so deeply that it led him to write this great hymn.”
Other sources suggest the scripture reference for that sermon was Acts 26:27-29.
King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.” Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?” Paul replied, “Short time or long—I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.”
Here is a nice recording of Almost Persuaded uploaded to YouTube by ihatetoro in 2010.
If you have a decision to make for the Lord, make it now! Don’t wait! You may not have another chance.
See you in church.