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 Time is now fleeting, the moments are passing,
passing from you and from me;
shadows are gathering, deathbeds are coming,
coming for you and for me. [Refrain]
4 O 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]
United Methodist Hymnal, 1989
|First Line:||Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling|
|Title:||Softly and Tenderly Jesus Is Calling|
|Author:||Will L. Thompson (1880)|
|Meter:||220.127.116.11 with refrain|
|Refrain First Line:||Come home, come home|
This text was written by Will L. Thompson and first published in 1880 by his own music company, Will L. Thompson and Co., in Sparkling Gems, edited by J. Calvin Bushey. The text has four stanzas and a refrain, although the third stanza (“Time is now fleeting”) is sometimes omitted. Other hymnals alter the third line of that stanza from “deathbeds are coming” to “death's night is coming.” Carlton Young has called this song a lullaby, writing “This attribute contributes to the continuing popularity of this genre of religious song that presents Jesus as waiting, caring, and forgiving in intimate – and for many, compelling – metaphors” (Companion to the United Methodist Hymnal, p. 600).
Will Thompson's tune is called either SOFTLY AND TENDERLY, after the text for which it was written, or THOMPSON, after the composer. The structure of the tune fits the lullaby idea well, for it is in triple meter and has fairly simple harmony, though the conclusion of the first phrase in the refrain is chromatic.
This is a hymn of invitation that could be used at funerals or memorial services. An instrumental setting could provide a time of silent contemplation on the end of this life. A string quartet setting of “Softly and Tenderly” trades the melody around between members, and includes an optional third violin as a substitute for viola. Another suggestion is to have the choir or a soloist sing the hymn, particularly if many in the congregation are unfamiliar with it. “Softly and Tenderly” is a vocal arrangement that can be performed by anything from a soloist to a choir. A medley of gospel hymns of invitation, “Come Home” includes “Just As I Am,” “Softly and Tenderly,” and “Jesus is Tenderly Calling” in a simple choral arrangement with piano accompaniment. An a capella choral setting, “Softly and Tenderly Jesus Is Calling,” prominently features a soloist.
Tiffany Shomsky, Hymnary.org