The words and music of this beautiful hymn were first published in a monthly entitled ”Guide to Holiness,” a copy of which was sent to me in England in 1873. I immediately adopted it and had it published in ”Sacred Songs and Solos.” It proved to be one of the most helpful of the revival hymns, and was often used as an invitation hymn in England and America.
Shortly after this hymn was written, while it was being sung by a large congregation in Washington, a passing merchant stopped to listen. It had been twenty years since he had crossed the threshold of a church. The congregation were on their feet and sinners were passing to the altar for prayer. Stanza after stanza of this hymn was sung, with increasing interest. The Holy Spirit so pressed the Lord's claims that the merchant yielded and joined the penitents. He was converted and this hymn became his favorite. He sang it in his home, on the street, and in his store. It seemed a special inspiration to him. One morning, about two weeks after his conversion, as he started for his store, his wife, having accompanied him to the door to say good-bye, heard him joyfully begin to sing” I am coming, Lord, to Thee,” as he reached the street. She listened a little while, looking after him, and then turned to her room. A few moments later the door-bell rang. She answered it in person, only to find that men were bearing home her husband's dead body. He had slipped on the icy pavement and was instantly killed. The memory of those last words of song that fell upon her ears, as he triumphantly sang ”I am coming, Lord, to Thee,” was to her a lasting comfort.
“While holding meetings at Eastbourn,” says an English evangelist, ”a man by the name of David was converted. His very wicked workmate, whose name was Stephen, noticed the change in him the next day, and asked David what had caused it. David boldly confessed that he had found the Saviour at the Mission, and expressed a wish that Stephen would accompany him there next Sunday—to which he finally agreed. As we began the service on Sunday evening, I gave out the hymn, ' I hear Thy welcome Voice.' During the singing I noticed that the Spirit had touched a man who was sitting on the first form under the platform. After a short comment on the verses, I said: ' We will have the prayer-meeting at once,' and in another minute I was down by the side of Stephen— for it was he—and with my arm around his neck I said to him:' The Lord is speaking to you, is he not?'“ After the meeting Stephen testified that he had been able to knock down two men in a fight, but that he never was so knocked down in all his life as when he felt my arm around his neck. Stephen became a brave and true follower of Christ. He brought his wife to church, and though at first she had ridiculed her husband, she, too, soon gave heed to the ' welcome.