“Softly and Tenderly,” Comfort for All
Betty Mason Arthurs
A hymn, written during the horse and buggy days of the 1800s, soared across time and space. It swept into the hearts of the audience of the 2017 Country Music Awards. Performers and fans held their breath as on a large screen flashed 50 photos of those killed in the October massacre at an outdoor concert in Las Vegas. Carrie Underwood sang the hymn, “Softly and Tenderly.” Wiping my tears, along with many others, I once again felt the comfort only God bestows in times of grief, especially through music. We also remember those lost in other attacks, the most recent in a tiny white church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.
I’d like to share the words to this beautiful hymn:
- 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.
- 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?
- Time is now fleeting, the moments are passing, Passing from you and from me;
Shadows are gathering, deathbeds are coming, Coming for you and for me.
- O for the wonderful love He has promised, Promised for you and for me;
Tho we have sinned He has mercy and pardon, Pardon 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.
I sang this hymn many times during my childhood years but I had forgotten it until the night of the CMA event. I was raised in tiny white churches in small town America in the 1950s. I can still hear my parents’ voices lifted in song, dad’s tenor and mom’s alto, harmonizing on this gospel hymn. Now I find myself humming the tune or singing the words off and on all day as I pray for the families of those killed across our country and around the world. Its haunting melody and touching words bring me comfort as nothing else has.
My prayer is that you also find the comfort only God can give as we live in dangerous times, not giving into fear and depression. Many dear folk will be missing loved ones from their Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings. May we echo the words of this hymn as we softly and tenderly pray for them.