Posted by: rcottrill | September 24, 2010

Today in 1904 – William Sleeper Died

William True Sleeper was an American Congregational clergyman. He had pastorates in Massachusetts and Maine, pastoring the Summer Street Congregational Church in Worcester, Massachusetts, for over 30 years. There are two gospel songs by Pastor Sleeper that are still in use: Ye Must Be Born Again (1877), and Jesus I Come (1887).

The former was written when an evangelist, assisted by musician George Stebbins, was holding meetings in Worcester. The man preached on Jesus’ discussion with Nicodemus about the necessity of the new birth (cf. Jn. 1:12-13; 3:3). Just as we needed a physical birth to enter the physical world as a child of our parents, so we need a spiritual birth to enter the family of God and have Him as our Father. Stebbins says:

I spoke to Reverend…Sleeper, one of the pastors of the city who sometimes wrote hymns, of my impression [of the message] and asked him if he would write me some verses on the subject. He acted at once on my suggestion and soon after came to me with the hymn…Before the meetings closed a musical setting was made.

A ruler once came to Jesus by night
To ask Him the way of salvation and light;
The Master made answer in words true and plain,
“Ye must be born again.”

“Ye must be born again,
Ye must be born again,
I verily, verily, say unto thee,
Ye must be born again.”

O ye who would enter that glorious rest,
And sing with the ransomed the song of the blest,
The life everlasting if ye would obtain,
“Ye must be born again.”

Another perceptive gospel song by William True Sleeper is Jesus, I Come. As well as being a fine song, it’s a skilful piece of poetry. In succeeding verses he deals with various aspects of our spiritual need, and looks to Christ for the answer. Here is the entire text.

Out of my bondage, sorrow, and night,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into Thy freedom, gladness, and light,
Jesus, I come to Thee;
Out of my sickness, into Thy health,
Out of my want and into Thy wealth,
Out of my sin and into Thyself,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of my shameful failure and loss,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into the glorious gain of Thy cross,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of earth’s sorrows into Thy balm,
Out of life’s storms and into Thy calm,
Out of distress to jubilant psalm,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of unrest and arrogant pride,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into Thy blessèd will to abide,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of myself to dwell in Thy love,
Out of despair into raptures above,
Upward for aye on wings like a dove,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of the fear and dread of the tomb,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into the joy and light of Thy throne,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of the depths of ruin untold,
Into the peace of Thy sheltering fold,
Ever Thy glorious face to behold,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

(2) Christian, Walk Carefully (Data Missing)
As far as I know, Sankey’s Sacred Songs and Solos (#617) is the only book that contains this interesting song. The source of the words is unknown, but gospel musician George Stebbins provided the tune. I’ve termed it an interesting song because of the way the stanzas are set out to highlight key characteristics of our Christian walk. Successively, the hymn exhorts: “Christian, walk carefully…walk cheerfully…walk prayerfully…walk hopefully.”

Christian, walk carefully: dangers are near!
On in thy journey with trembling and fear;
Snares from without and temptations within,
Seek to entice thee once more into sin.

Christian, walk cheerfully through the fierce storm,
Dark though the sky with its threats of alarm;
Soon will the clouds and the tempest be o’er.
Then with thy Saviour thou’lt rest evermore.

Christian, walk prayerfully: oft wilt thou fall,
If thou forget on thy Saviour to call;
Safe thou shalt walk through each trial and care,
If thou art clad in the armour of prayer.

Christian, walk hopefully: sorrow and pain
Cease when the haven of rest thou shalt gain;
Then from the lips of the Judge, thy reward:
“Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”


  1. […] Wordwise Hymns The Cyber […]


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