Over the Line

Words by Ellen K. Bradford Music by E. H. Phelps

"Oh, tender and sweet was the Master's voice
As He lovingly called to me.”

We were holding meetings in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1878. One day, at the noon meeting in City Hall, a minister rose on the platform and bore testimony to the way the Lord had blessed one of his sons, a Yale student. ”My son,” he said, ”happened to be seated beside a gentleman from England in one of Mr. Moody's meetings. Tarrying for the after meeting, he was spoken to by the gentleman beside him about becoming a Christian. After half an hour spent in talking they went out into the street, and the gentleman said that he would gladly walk home with my son if he had no objection, as he had nothing else to do. They came at last to the gate which led to my home. Before parting, the earnest Christian worker said he would like to offer one more prayer for my boy. Holding the young man's hand, he asked that the Lord would enable him to decide the great question that very night. With this prayer they separated. The gentleman left town the next day, and may never know how God heard and answered his prayer.

“My son was greatly impressed. Approaching the house, he stopped suddenly, made a deep line across the graveled walk with his cane, and said: ' Now, I must decide this question, for or against Christ, tonight. If I cross the line my life shall be for him; but if I go around it, it will be for the world.' Standing there considering the great question with himself for a half hour, at last he cried:' O God, help me to decide aright!' Then he went bounding over the line, and came into my room and said: ' Father, I wish you would pray for me! I have decided to be a Christian. '“The minister said that his heart went out in supplication to God to keep and bless his boy.

This story affected the audience to tears. One of the newspapermen, Mr. E. H. Phelps, proprietor of one of the leading papers of the city, took down the father's story and published it the next morning. And Mrs. Bradford, of Palmer, in the same state, after reading the incident in the paper, sat down and wrote ”Over the Line. ”She sent the hymn to the editor of the paper, Mr. Phelps, and he at once set it to music. Three days later he handed the song to me. I adapted it and had it published in ”Gospel Hymns.” It has been blessed to thousands of souls all over the world, leading to the conversion of very many.

“While I was holding a series of revival meetings at Brigham, Utah, ”relates an Iowa clergyman,” a man was brought to a full surrender of himself to Christ by the singing of the hymn, ' Over the Line.' The first two or three meetings made him very angry, and he determined not to go any more; but as the services increased in interest his anxiety and troubled mind induced him to return, yet only as an observer. He remained in the lecture-room, which opened into the audience-room. Here he was noticed walking the floor, as if in bodily pain. But when at the close of the meeting we sang this hymn, he advanced toward the pulpit, made a long step as though stepping over some object, reached out his hand and said in a loud, determined voice: ' I have stepped over the line.' This dramatic surrender to Christ and public profession had a powerful effect upon the audience, and many more followed his example."

A missionary sends me the following incident: ”I was holding a gospel meeting one Sunday in a Woman's Christian Temperance Union mission. We were on our bended knees when the Spirit said to me, sing,' Over the Line.' When we arose I turned to the lady at the organ, who had a consecrated voice, and said, sing ' Over the Line.' At the close a man rose and spoke as follows: ' I came away from home and family and work two weeks ago in a drunken spree. Since I came to your city I have often heard of this mission, and was asked to come, but with oaths I refused up to an hour ago, and then I entered this room. The same spirit of unbelief possessed me until this lady began to sing. Those words went to my heart; they were all written for me, and as she sang the last verse I crossed the line, I gave myself, and'—with a deep sob—' He took me.'“