It was Christmas eve 1875. Sankey, the famous singer in Moody’s evangelism events, was travelling on a steam boat on Delaware River. It was a beautiful and starlit evening. Many passengers were gathered on deck. Somebody asked Sankey to sing a song. He stood leaning on one of the big chimneys of the ship as he lifted up his eyes towards the starlit sky. He wanted to sing a Christmas carol but almost against his will he was driven to sing the song “What a friend we have in Jesus”. anzustimmen.

Not a single sound could be heard from the people. The words and the tune of the singer’s voice were resounding over the deck and the quiet river. The audience was deeply moved. After the song was over, a man with a sun-tanned face approached Sankey and asked him:
“Did you ever serve in the Union Army?”
“Yes, “ answered Sankey. “In the Spring of 1860.”
„Can you remember if you were doing picket duty on a bright moonlight night in 1862?“
„Yes, I do,“ answered Sankey, with surprise. „Were you…?“
„I did, too, 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 in the shadow, completely hidden, while you walked in full moonlight.
„At that instant, you began to sing—just as a moment ago. The song was ‚Saviour, like a shepherd lead us…‘
„The music reached my heart. I took my finger off the trigger. ‚I’ll wait until the end of the song,‘ I said to myself. ‚I can’t miss him, and I can shoot him afterwards.‘
„As you sang, you reached the place where it says,
„‚We are Thine, do Thou befriend us,‘
„‚Be the guardian of our way…‘
„I could hear every word perfectly, and how the memories came to my heart! I began to think of my childhood and my mother. She loved God. She had sung that song to me many times. But she died all too soon, otherwise I think my life might have been different.
„At the end of the song, I could not raise my musket again. It was impossible for me to take aim, though you still stood in the bright moonlight, a perfect target.
„Then I thought of the Lord. I looked at you and thought, ‚The Lord who was able to save that man from certain death must surely be great and mighty.‘ My arm dropped to my side and I cannot tell you all the things I thought at that time. My heart was smitten, but I didn’t know what to do.
„Just now, when you were about to sing and stood quietly as if praying, I recognized you. I’ve wandered far and wide, since that other occasion. I have never found that Shepherd. Please help me now find a cure for my sick soul.“

Deeply moved, Mr. Sankey threw his arms about the man who had been his enemy, who, indeed, could have ended his life. That Christmas Eve night, a former soldier found the great and tender Shepherd as his Saviour.

Source: Cowman CH.E. (2002). Alle meine Quellen sind in Dir. 18. Auflage. Schulte & Gerth.