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William J. Kirkpatrick, a prolific song writer, participated in many of the Camp meeting revivals of the 19th century. He often led the music and enlisted the help of soloists and other musicians to perform. During one of these meetings in 1892, he became saddened when he realized that the soloist would perform the required songs and then leave without staying to hear the preacher. William feared that this young man did not really know Christ; so he began to pray that God would somehow reach the soloist’s heart. One evening while praying, a song based on the story of the Prodigal Son began to form in his mind. He quickly jotted down the lyrics and asked the soloist to sing them that night. The words convicted the young man so much that he stayed and listened to the message. When the preacher gave the alter call at the end of the night, the soloist got up and went to the front of the tent and accepted Jesus as Lord. Here is what he sang:


I’ve wandered far away from God; now I’m coming home.

The paths of sin too long I’ve trod; Lord, I’m coming home.


I’ve wasted many precious years; now I’m coming home.

I now repent with bitter tears; Lord, I’m coming home.


I’m tired of sin and straying, Lord; now I’m coming home.

I’ll trust thy love, believe thy word; Lord, I’m coming home.


My soul is sick, my heart is sore; now I’m coming home.

My strength renew, my hope restore; Lord I’m coming home.


Coming home, coming home, never more to roam!

Open wide thine arms of love; Lord I’m coming home.


(Terry, Lindsay. Stories Behind Popular Songs and Hymns. 1990, p.221)

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