When I was a young girl my father would often sing at our Quaker Meeting in Westboro, Ohio.  One of the songs he sang especially well was The Ninety and Nine.  Sometimes Russell Ford, a traveling minister, would come to our little Quaker meeting and would paint with chalk as he would sing or speak.  I remember that he completed a fine version of Soord’s original work which we later framed and affixed to the wall of our living room at home.    So today I am thinking about my dad and this song and wish to share it with you.

lost sheep soord

Alford Usher Soord (1868-1915) was a British painter whose most famous work is a painting of The Parable Of The Lost Sheep, depicting a sheep stranded halfway down a steep cliff and the shepherd hanging perilously over the edge, risking his own life to save it.   The painting was exhibited in 1898 in the Royal Academy and by 1916, over 300,000 reproductions of it had been sold in England and America.  The work continues to be extremely popular more than a century after its creation.

Elizabeth Cecelia Douglas Clephane (June 18, 1830 – February 19, 1869) was the author of the hymn The Ninety and Nine. 

1. There were ninety and nine that safely lay
In the shelter of the fold.
But one was out on the hills away,
Far off from the gates of gold.
Away on the mountains wild and bare.
Away from the tender Shepherd’s care.
Away from the tender Shepherd’s care.

2. “Lord, Thou hast here Thy ninety and nine;
Are they not enough for Thee?”
But the Shepherd made answer: “This sheep of Mine
Has wandered away from Me;
And although the road may be rough and steep,
I go to the desert to find My sheep,
I go to the desert to find My sheep.”

3. But none of the ransomed ever knew
How deep were the waters crossed;
Nor how dark was the night the Lord passed through
Ere He found His sheep that was lost.
Out in the desert He heard its cry,
Sick and helpless and ready to die;
Sick and helpless and ready to die.

4. “Lord, whence are those blood drops all the way
That mark out the mountain’s track?”
“They were shed for one who had gone astray
Ere the Shepherd could bring him back.”
“Lord, whence are Thy hands so rent and torn?”
“They are pierced tonight by many a thorn;
They are pierced tonight by many a thorn.”

5. And all through the mountains, thunder riven
And up from the rocky steep,
There arose a glad cry to the gate of Heaven,
“Rejoice! I have found My sheep!”
And the angels echoed around the throne,
“Rejoice, for the Lord brings back His own!
Rejoice, for the Lord brings back His own!”

Two Versions of the Parable from Matthew and Luke are as follows:

Luke 15: 3-7

King James Version (KJV)

And he spake this parable unto them, saying, What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?  And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

Matthew 18: 12-14

New International Version (NIV)

12 “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.

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