The Gate Ajar for Me

Words by Mrs. Lydia Baxter Music by S. J. Vail

"There is a gate that stands ajar,
And through its portals gleaming.”

Mrs. Lydia Baxter, born in Petersburg, New York, in 1809, was an invalid for many years. But her interest in the religious welfare of those around her was manifested in many ways. She wrote ”There is a gate that stands ajar” about three years before her death in New York City in' 1874, when she was considerably past the sixty-year mark.

In our meetings in Great Britain, 1873-74, this hymn was much used. It was sung at the watch-night service in 1873, the night before New Year's, in the Free Assembly Hall of Edinburgh. A young lady who was present—Maggie Lindsay, of Aberdeen, Scotland—was much impressed by the hymn, and those seated by her side heard her exclaim, ”O, heavenly Father, is it true that the gate is standing ajar for me? If it is so, I will go in. ”That night she became a disciple of the Lord Jesus. The next day she called on her pastor, the Rev. J. H. Wilson, minister of the Barclay Church, and told him of her decision. He was greatly pleased, and advised her to tell her school companions of her experience. This she did, and succeeded in leading several of them into the light. Scarcely a month later, on January 28, Maggie took a train for her home, but she never reached there alive. At Manual Junction a collision took place between a mineral train and the one on which she was riding. A number of passengers were killed, and Maggie, all crushed and broken, was found in the wreck. In one of her hands was a copy of ”Sacred Songs and Solos, ”opened at her favorite hymn, ”There is a gate that stands ajar, ”the page of which was stained with her heart's blood. She was carried into a cottage near the station, where she lingered a few days and was frequently heard to sing on her dying couch the chorus of the hymn so dear to her, ”For me, for me! was left ajar for me!”

In commemoration of this event, which touched me deeply, I wrote my first hymn, ”Home at last," which I also set to music.

An affecting incident was related by one of the colporteurs of the Christian Colportage Association for England. ”I called at a house in B—, where lived two aged people who were invalids. I had called several times before, but could never sell them any books or command their attention to hear about good things. On this occasion I began to sing, ' There is a gate that stands ajar.' When I came to the chorus, ' Oh, depth of mercy,' I saw a tear in the old lady's eye, and I stopped. But she said: ' Go on; that is a nice song.' I continued, but before I had finished she burst into tears, asking, 'Is that mercy for me?' I then talked to them both about Jesus and prayed with them. They bought the hymn-book containing the song, and earnestly begged me to come again as soon as possible. I have visited them every month. Last week, when I called I found the poor woman dying; but when her husband told her I had come, she said: ' I want to see him, tell him to come in.' She could hardly speak, but she said in a whisper: ' Do sing my favorite.' I knew which one she meant, and sang very softly,

'Oh, depth of mercy can it be
That gate was left ajar for me?'

She tried to join me in singing, but fell back, quite exhausted. I could not talk much with her, she was so weak; but she held my hand with a firm grasp, still repeating the words,' Oh, depth of mercy! can it be?' I have just heard that she has passed away, happy in the Saviour's love, and singing as well as she could that beautiful hymn."

Lord Shaftesbury once told the following story: ' A young woman had wandered away from home and parents. One day, while listening to the Gospel, she was so impressed that she resolved to return home. She started, and on reaching the house found the door unfastened, and she walked upstairs to her mother. 'Mother,' she asked, ' how was it that I found the door open?' 'My girl,' replied the mother, ' that door has never been closed since you have been away; I thought that some night my poor girl would return.’”