Softly and Tenderly Jesus Is Calling

Full Text

1 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,
you who are weary come home;
earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
calling, O sinner, come home!

2 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? [Refrain]

3 Oh! For the wonderful love he has promised,
promised for you and for me;
though we have sinned he has mercy and pardon,
pardon for you and for me. [Refrain]

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Scripture References

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

The gospel calls sinners to forsake their sin and turn to Jesus Christ in repentance that they may be forgiven. Our Song of Hope, stanza 16 says, “The Holy Spirit sends the church to call sinners to repentance, to proclaim the good news that Jesus is personal Savior and Lord.” The Canons of Dort, III-IV, 8 assures: “All who are called by the gospel are called earnestly. For urgently and most genuinely God makes known in the Word what is pleasuring to him: that those who are called should come to God.”


Softly and Tenderly Jesus Is Calling


God of compassion,
you are slow to anger and full of mercy,
welcoming sinners who return to you with penitent hearts.
Receive in your loving embrace
all who come home to you.
Seat them at your bountiful table of grace,
that, with all your children,
they may feast with delight
on all that satisfies the hungry heart.
We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever. Amen.
[Harold M. Daniels in BCW, p 248(231), PD]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two


Can a woman forget her nursing child,
or show no compassion for the child of her womb?
Even these may forget,
yet I will not forget you.
As a mother comforts her child,
so will I comfort you, says the Lord.
—from Isaiah 49:15; 66:12-13, NRSV
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Additional Prayers

A Prayer of Confession and Assurance
O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us.  You are the one who calls not the righteous but sinners.  You call through our defiance, through our confusion, through the first turning of our hearts toward you.  Softly you call, tenderly you call, always you call, waiting to renew our hearts and bring us home.  In your wonderful name.  Amen.
— Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.

Softly and Tenderly Jesus Is Calling

Tune Information

G Major
Meter refrain



Softly and Tenderly Jesus Is Calling

Hymn Story/Background

This gospel song is the best known of Will Thompson’s songs. It was first published in Sparkling Gems, Nos. 1 and 2, in 1880. Alledgedly, when Dwight L. Moody was on his death bed, Will Thomp­son made a spe­cial vi­sit to him, and Moody told him, “Will, I would ra­ther have writ­ten “Soft­ly and Ten­der­ly Je­sus is Call­ing” than an­y­thing I have been able to do in my whole life.”
This hymn has remained popular and has been translated into many languages. It was sung in the Acad­e­my Award win­ning mo­vie Trip to Boun­ti­ful (1985), and at a me­mor­i­al ser­vice for Amer­i­can ci­vil rights lead­er Mar­tin Lu­ther King Jr., at the Eb­e­ne­zer Bap­tist Church, At­lan­ta, Georg­ia, Ap­ril 8, 1968.
— Emily Brink

Composer Information

Rebuffed in an ear­ly at­tempt to sell his songs to a com­mer­cial pub­lish­er, Will Lamartine Thompson (b. East Liverpool, Ohio, November 7, 1847; d. New York, New York, September 20, 1909) start­ed his own pub­lish­ing com­pa­ny. He lat­er ex­pand­ed, open­ing a store to sell pi­an­os, or­gans and sheet mu­sic. Both a lyr­i­cist and com­pos­er, he en­sured he would al­ways re­mem­ber words or mel­o­dies that came to him at odd times: "No mat­ter where I am, at home or ho­tel, at the store or tra­vel­ing, if an idea or theme comes to me that I deem wor­thy of a song, I jot it down in verse. In this way I ne­ver lose it."Thompson took ill dur­ing a tour of Eur­ope, and his fam­i­ly cut short their tra­vels to re­turn home. He died a few weeks lat­er.
— Hymntime (http://www.hymntime.com)
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