Will L. Thompson was born at East Liverpool, Ohio. His father, Josiah Thompson, was a member of the Ohio State Legislature.
Young Thompson attended the Boston Music School and did additional musical study in Germany. After a very successful career of writing secular music, Thompson turned his talents to writing gospel hymns.
His business earned him a sizable income in his lifetime, yet he was always known as a kind, quiet and unassuming Christian gentleman, greatly loved and admired by his associates.
Thompson was also known for his travels by horse and buggy from one small community to another throughout Ohio singing his songs to people everywhere.
This particular hymn was one of D.L. Moody’s favorites. It is said that on his deathbed while being visited by Mr. Thompson, Moody feebly whispered:
“Will, I would rather have written ‘Softly and Tenderly’ than anything I have been able to do in my whole life.”
This hymn was widely used as an invitation hymn in the great evangelistic meetings conducted by Moody and Sankey throughout Great Britain and in America.
Softly and Tenderly
(1) Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling,
Calling for you and for me;
See on the portals He’s waiting and watching,
Watching for you and for me.
CHORUS: Come home, come home,
Ye who are weary, come home;
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling-
Calling, "O sinner, come home!"
(2) Why should we linger when Jesus is pleading,
Pleading for you and for me?
Why should we wait, then, and heed not His mercies,
Mercies for you and for me?
(3) O for the wonderful love He has promised,
Promised for you and for me;
Tho' we have sinnned He has mercy and pardon,
pardon for you and for me.