Christmas Eve Marvel.
It was the year of 1862, during the Civil War. It was a bitter cold night, with bright moonlight that gave clear view to everything below. A Confederate Soldier was on picket duty, when across the field, a Union Soldier who was also on picket duty, came into full view. The Confederate Soldier got his musket and took aim, completely hidden in the shadows. Just as he did, the Union Soldier began to sing.
“Saviour, like a shepherd lead us, much we need thy tender care. In thy pleasant pastures feed us, for thy use our folds prepare. Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, Thou hast bought us thine we are. Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus. Thou hast bought us, Thine we are.”
This took the soldier with the musket by surprise. He thought to himself, “I’ll let him finish his song, then I’ll shoot him. I can’t miss him and he won’t be able to get away fast enough.” At that moment, the Singing Soldier started verse two:
“We are Thine, do Thou befriend us, BE THE GUARDIAN OF OUR WAY…”.
The music touched his heart as he heard it and he took his finger off the trigger. It brought back childhood memories of when his mother would sing that song to him, teaching him of the Lord. He listened until the end of the song, then dropped his musket. Without the Union soldier ever knowing he had been there, he turned and slipped away into the darkness.
Fourteen years passed, and it was now 1876. The Union soldier had since become a very well known hymn writer and song leader, traveling with Evangelist D.L. Moody. His name was Ira D. Sankey. He had written many hymns, including “The Ninety and Nine,” and also composed the music to many other famous hymns, including “A Shelter in the Time of Storm.” He was on his way home, on a steamboat on the Delaware River on Christmas Eve. Many passengers on board recognized Sankey and decided they would ask him to sing a song for everyone. On the deck, Sankey agreed and leaned against one of the big funnels. He paused for a moment, before he started. He wanted to sing a Christmas song, but the Lord seemed to lead in another direction. The words to “Saviour, Like A Shepherd Lead Us” came to his mind and he felt impressed to sing this song. So, he did. Everyone on deck listened intently to the singer, and the words of the song, in stillness. The Lord’s power was on him and his song.
As he finished, a bearded man approached Sankey from the other side of the deck.
He asked Sankey if he could speak with him for a moment. As the two men separated from the crowd, the bearded stranger asked Sankey if he had ever served in the Union Army. Sankey replied with the answer of yes. The stranger asked if he had picket duty, 14 yrs ago, on a clear cold night. Sankey said yes, and asked if the stranger had been there in service also. He told him yes, but had been a Confederate soldier. He went on to tell Sankey he had seen him in clear view, while hidden in the shadows across the enemy lines. He told him how he had raised his musket to fire, and at that same moment he had begun to sing. “It was the same song you sang tonight. When I heard your voice, I knew it was you.” He went on the tell Sankey how he planned on letting him finish his song, and then shoot him. “When you started to sing the part that said, ‘We are Thine, do thou befriend us, be the Guardian of our way…’ it touched my heart. It made me think of my dear mother that had passed, and how she loved the Lord, and would sing this same song to me as a child. I couldn’t shoot you. My heart was smitten. I didn’t know what to do, so I slipped off in the darkness. These fourteen years I have often thought of that night. Tonight, I know that the Lord that was able to save you from certain death, and was the Guardian of your way. He MUST SURELY be great and mighty. I have wandered these fourteen years since then, lost without that Shepherd. Will you please tell me how he can save me?”
And there, on board that steamboat, two soldiers, once enemies, now prayed together for that Great Shepherd to bring another lost sheep home.
(Check the internet to verify: Sankey Civil War)