Today the Savior calls

Today the Savior calls;
  Ye wand’rers come:
O ye benighted souls!
  Why longer roam?
Today the Savior calls;
  O hear Him now!
Before your day is gone,
  To Jesus bow.
Today the Savior calls;
  For refuge fly;
The storm of vengeance falls,
  And death is nigh.
The Spirit calls today;
  Yield to His pow’r;
O grieve Him not away,
  ’Tis mercy’s hour!
Ana Lara

United States

Samuel Francis Smith was a prominent Baptist preacher of the nineteenth century. He was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on October 21, 1808. Smith graduated from Harvard in 1829 and then studied in Andover Theological Seminary to become a minister. He served in several Baptist churches throughout the East. In 1843 along with Barton Stow, Smith compiled a hymnal, “The Psalmist, ” which became the most widely used of that day. Samuel Smith composed 150 hymns in his lifetime. He also edited a missionary magazine and greatly promoted the missionary cause. Later he became the Secretary of the Baptist Missionary Union and visited foreign missions fields. He learned fifteen different languages and began studying Russian at age eighty-six, a year before his death.

He also wrote the text, “My Country ‘Tis of Thee. ” One day a well-known American music educator, Lowell Mason, gave to Smith a copy of a German patriotic hymn which was translated as “God Bless Our Native Land. ” Samuel, who was only twenty-four years old, was so moved with the hymn that he decided the United States also needed a similar hymn. Then right there he grabbed a piece of scratch paper and began jotting down the verses. Within half an hour he finished what is considered to be the best loved patriotic hymn. The following July 4th, it played at a Sunday School celebration in a public park. It had an immediate positive response and quickly became popular all across the country. A prominent leader once said of this hymn:

“Strong in simplicity and deep in its trust in God, children and philosophers can repeat the hymn together. Every crisis will hear it above the storm. ”

The tune is notably of England’s, “God Save the King/Queen” which has been sung for over 200 years. Some traces go as far back as the seventeenth century in Swiss music and in musical heritages of Germany and Russia as well. Its first known publication was in a hymnal entitled, “Thesaurus Musicus” in 1740. In 1841, Ludwig Beethoven, wrote several piano variations of this tune. One of the original stanzas was dropped because of its anti-British sentiment but the other four have remained in common use.

Samuel Francis Smith died suddenly on November 16, 1895 while on a train which would have taken him to preach in the Boston neighborhood of Readville. He is buried in the Newton Cemetery.