There Were Ninety and Nine

Full Text

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 of mine has wandered away from me,
and although the road 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 that the Lord passed thro'
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're pierced tonight by many a thorn,
they're pierced tonight by many a thorn."

5 But all thro' the mountains, thunder-riv'n,
and up from the rocky steep,
there arose a glad cry to the gate of heav'n,
"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!"

Source: Trinity Hymnal (Rev. ed.) #187

Author: Elizabeth Cecilia Clephane

Clephane, Elizabeth Cecilia, third daughter of Andrew Clephane, Sheriff of Fife, was born at Edinburgh, June 18, 1830, and died at Bridgend House, near Melrose, Feb. 19, 1869. Her hymns appeared, almost all for the first time, in the Family Treasury, under the general title of Breathings on the Border. In publishing the first of these in the Treasury, the late Rev. W. Arnot, of Edinburgh, then editor, thus introduced them:— "These lines express the experiences, the hopes, and the longings of a young Christian lately released. Written on the very edge of this life, with the better land fully, in the view of faith, they seem to us footsteps printed on the sands of Time, where these sands touch the ocean of Eternity. These footprints of one… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: There were ninety and nine that safely lay
Title: There Were Ninety and Nine
Author: Elizabeth Cecilia Clephane (1868)
Meter: Irregular
Language: English
Refrain First Line: Lost on the mountains cold and bare


There were ninety and nine that safely lay. Elizabeth C. Clephane. [The Lost Sheep.] This beautiful poem was probably written in 1868 at Melrose, where the authoress then resided, and first published in 1868, in a small magazine for the young, entitled, The Children's Hour, pt. ii. p. 15, in 5 stanzas of 6 lines. Subsequently it appeared as No. 8 of the series of her hymns entitled Breathings on the Border, in the Family Treasury, 1874, p. 595. Thence it was copied into the Christian Age, May 13, 1874, where it was seen by Mr. I. D. Sankey, who set it to music and sang it with great effect at his gospel meetings. He included it in 1875 in his Sacred Songs and Solos. It has since appeared in England, in the Hymnal Companion, 1876; Thring's Collection 1882; Baptist Psalms & Hymns Supplement, 1880, &c., and in America in the Evangelical Association Hymn Book, Cleveland, 1882, and other collections. It is rapidly attaining a foremost position among modern hymns. [Rev. James Mearns, M.A.]

--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)



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Trinity Hymnal (Rev. ed.) #187TextImage