Where is My Boy To-Night?

Words by Robert Lowry Music by Robert Lowry

"Where is my wandering boy to-night—
The boy of my tenderest care?”

A mother came to me in Boston and asked me if I would try to find her wandering boy in California when I should go there with Mr. Moody to hold meetings. I promised to do what I could. For several weeks, as opportunity presented itself, I searched the cheap boarding-houses for the young man. At last I found him in the slums of the city and asked him to come to our meetings. He refused, saying that he was not fit to be seen there; but after much persuasion he came. One evening I sang: ”Where is my wandering boy,” and prefaced it with a few remarks, saying that I knew of one dear mother in the East who was praying for her wandering boy to-night. This, together with the song, touched the young man's heart, and he found his way into the inquiry-room, where, with my open Bible, I was enabled by God's grace to lead him into the light. I wrote to his mother and told her that her boy had been found, and that he was now a professed Christian. She sent me money to pay his railway fare back to Boston, and in a short time he had reached home and received a hearty welcome. He soon found employment, and became a useful citizen, and has since been a follower of Christ.

“I heard Chancellor Sims relate, ”states the Rev. H. B. Gibbud,” that he was once traveling with a man from the West who was on his way to visit his father, whom he had left years before when he was a boy. There had been trouble between them, and the father had told the son that he could go. In his anger the boy said that he would, and that he would never return. He had gone West, where he became a wealthy ranch owner; but he had never written to his father and had held the anger in his heart toward him all those years. Then he told the Chancellor how it was that he was now returning. A train on which he had been traveling had been snowed in, and people living near had made up a load of provisions and taken them to the imprisoned passengers. Then it was discovered that Mr. Sankey was on board, and at the people's request he came out on the steps and sang: ' Where is my wandering boy?' That song touched this man's heart, led him to God, and he was now going East to seek reconciliation with his parents."

A wayward boy was brought by a friend to the evening service of the Rev. J. H. Byers, of Stanberry, Missouri. Having learned something of his condition, Mr. Byers asked the leader of the choir to sing as a solo: ”Where is my wandering boy to-night? ”which he did with great feeling. The boy was converted, the next evening he united with the church, and he has continued to be an active, praying worker ever since. The young man's parents were devoted Christians. On the same night and until the next afternoon, for what was an unknown reason to them, they were led to pray most earnestly for their lost boy. During the time when the prayer-meeting was being held, they were comforted, and believed that they would hear good news. In a few hours they received a telegram that their boy was saved. At the meeting where this hymn was sung there were present the parents of two other boys who had left their homes, and as the solo was sung they prayed that their boys might be saved and brought home. In a few days letters were received from those boys, telling their parents that they were saved on the night when the solo was sung and the prayers were sent up for them.

The author of this hymn, which has done more to bring back wandering boys than any other, became a follower of Christ at the age of seventeen. After a score of years in different pastorates he accepted the professorship of letters in his alma mater, Bucknell University, together with the pastorate of another church. This double service he performed for six years, and then moved to Plainfield, New Jersey, where he lived until his death, in 1899, at the age of seventy-three. Dr. Lowry will continue to preach the Gospel in his hymns long after his sermons have been forgotten. Many of his hymns were written after the Sunday evening service, when his body was weary but his mind refused to rest.