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SOLDIER EXPLAINS HOW SONG SUNG BY ENEMY CHANGED HIM

One Christmas Eve, Ira D. Sankey was traveling by steamboat up the Delaware River. Asked to sing, Mr. Sankey sang the "Shepherd Song." After the song was ended, a man with a rough, weatherbeaten face came up to Mr. Sankey and said: "Did you ever serve in the Union Army?" Sankey replied "Yes, I did, in the spring of 1860." The man asked, "Can you remember if you were doing picket duty on a bright moonlight night in 1862?" Sankey was surprised and said, "Yes, I did." The stranger said, "So did I. But I was serving in the Confederate army. When I saw you standing at your post I said to myself: ’That fellow will never get away from here alive.’ I raised my musket and took aim. I was standing in the shadow completely concealed, while the full light of the moon was falling upon you. At that instant, just as a moment ago, you raised your eyes to heaven and began to sing. Music, especially song, has always had a wonderful power over me, and I took my finger off the trigger. ’Let him sing his song to the end.’ I said to myself. ’I can shoot him afterwards. He’s my victim at all events, and my bullet cannot miss him.’ But the song you sang then was the song you sang just now. I heard the words perfectly:

We are Thine, do Thou befriend us

Be the guardian of our way.

Those words stirred up many memories in my heart. I began to think of my childhood and my God-fearing mother. She had many, many times sung that song to me. But she died all too soon, otherwise much in my life would no doubt have been different. When you had finished your song it was impossible for me to take aim at you again. I thought: ’The Lord who is able to save that man from certain death must surely be great and mighty’ and my arm of its own accord dropped limp at my side." -From Religious Digest, reported in Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations, Paul Lee Tan

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