Yield Not to Temptation

Words by H. R. Palmer Music by H. R. Palmer

"Yield not to temptation,
For yielding is sin;”

Mr. Palmer says: ”This song was an inspiration. I was at work on the dry subject of ' Theory' when the complete idea flashed upon me, and I laid aside the theoretical work and hurriedly penned both words and music as fast as I could write them. I submitted them to the criticism of a friend afterward, and some changes were made in the third stanza, but the first two are exactly as they came to me. The music was first written in A flat; but I soon saw that B flat was better, and for many years it has appeared in that key. I am reverently thankful it has been a power for good."

A friend contributes this incident: ”Twenty years ago, when the State prison at Sing Sing, New York, had women as well as men within its walls, a lady used to visit the women's department. Every Sunday afternoon the inmates were permitted to come out and sit in the corridor to hear her talk, and to sing hymns with her. One day some of the women rebelled against an order of the matron, and a terrible scene followed. Screams, threats, ribaldry and profanity filled the air. It was said, by those who knew, that an uprising among the women prisoners was worse and more difficult to quell than one among the men. The matron hastily sent to the men's department for help. Suddenly a voice rose clear and strong above the tumult, singing a favorite song of the prisoners,

'Yield not to temptation,
For yielding is sin;
Each victory will help you
Some other to win.
Fight manfully onward,
Dark passions subdue;
Look ever to Jesus,
He'll carry you through.'

There was a lull; then one after another joined in the sacred song; and presently, with one accord, all formed into line and marched quietly to their cells."

A minister who at the time was laboring there, writes me that when Dr. Somerville, of Scotland, and Mr. Varley, of England, were in New Zealand, in the 1870’s, in connection with Young Men's Christian Association work, many young men found strength for life's temptations in the first lines of this hymn, which was sung at every meeting for months.

“Some twenty-four years ago, ”writes James A. Watson, of Blackburn, England,” the Presbyterian church of England was preparing to issue a new book of praise, ' The Church Praise,' now in use. I was asked to send in a suitable list of hymns for the young. Among the number I sent ' Yield not to temptation,' but to my regret, when I got a draft copy of the proposed hymn-book, that hymn was not in it. Three or four Sundays afterward I was requested by the teacher of the infant class in the St. George's School, where I have been superintendent for over forty years, to visit a dying boy. I found him unconscious. All that his widowed mother could tell me about him was that he had kept saying: 'He'll carry me through.' When I asked her if she knew what he meant, she told me that she did not. She did not attend church or school. I told her that it was the chorus of a hymn, and pointed out how the good Shepherd was carrying her little boy through the valley; how he was gathering her lamb in his loving arms. I also told her that the Saviour would carry her through her trouble, would comfort, strengthen and keep her, and at last bring her to the happy land where death-divided ones will meet to part no more. I was so much impressed by the incident that I wrote to the convener of the hymn-book committee, and pleaded for the insertion of the hymn in the new book. The committee put it in, and for twenty-three years the young people of our Presbyterian church have been able to sing it when wanted, all through the comfort it had been to a little dying boy, the only son of a widow, on a back street of Blackburn."