Here are my completed Hymnals:

Presbyterian 1955 Hymnbook: http://amzn.to/2zSRdpL

Episcopal 1940 Hymnal: http://amzn.to/2DEOl1H 

Broadman 1940 Hymnal:  http://amzn.to/2C1WuwK

Lutheran 1941 Hymnal:  http://amzn.to/2zUmYi2

Methodist 1939 Hymnal:  http://amzn.to/2CfJ1Wq

Pilgrim 1935 Hymnal: http://amzn.to/2DDvbJC

Now Sings My Soul, New Songs for the Lord by: Linda Bonney Olin:  http://amzn.to/2DQ6gUy

Here are my new projects:

Choice Hymns of the Faith 1945 http://amzn.to/2Dx97nA

J S Bach Riemenschneider 371 Harmonized Chorales  http://amzn.to/2DSy5f9

References:

Dictionary of Hymnology:  http://amzn.to/2BxPabk

Text by: Robert Lowry

Tune by: Robert Lowry

https://youtu.be/X-CdefZo4K0

1 Where is my wandering boy tonight—

The boy of my tenderest care,

The boy that was once my joy and light,

The child of my love and prayer?

Refrain

O where is my boy tonight?

O where is my boy tonight?

My heart o’erflows, for I love him, he knows;

O where is my boy tonight?

2 Once he was pure as morning dew,

As he knelt at his mother’s knee;

No face was as bright, no heart more true,

And none was so sweet as he.

Refrain

3 O could I see you now, my boy,

As fair as in olden time,

When prattle and smile made home a joy,

And life was a merry chime!

Refrain

4 Go for my wandering boy tonight;

Go search for him where you will;

But bring him to me with all his blight,

And tell him I love him still.

Refrain

You may know the great hymnist Robert Lowry’s most popular hymns: “Low in the Grave He Lay, Jesus, my Savior,” “My Life Flows on in Endless Song,” and “We Shall Gather at the River.” However, this is a very unique hymn, outside of the very last line in the first stanza, with the word “prayer,” there is no religious imagery or content. It is entirely written from the perspective of a parent whose child has left the home and is lost to them. As a parent of a son whose late teen and early 20’s were very troubled, this hymn speaks to me with an immediacy which belies its approximate 150 years of age. I suspect anybody who has had a troubled child understands the anguish expressed in these short verses very well.

Revisiting this hymn has brought to mind the story Jesus told of the prodigal son. We often focus on the behavior of the brothers in this story, but real story is the heart ache the father experienced as he watched his son wander off and into perils he dared not imagine. When faced with this type of unending anxiety, it is little wonder he was overcome with joy upon his son’s return and held such an extravagant party.

For a hymn which contains scant overtly religious content, there are many stories surrounding it which speaks of this hymn being a vehicle which drove many wandering sons to repent and be reunited with both his earthly parents and his Heavenly Father. I will share one of these stories which I think best captures the range of human experience here.

“A widowed lady of culture, about forty years of age, who was an accomplished vocalist, had ceased to sing, though her sweet voice was still in its prime. The cause was her sorrow for her runaway boy. She had not heard from him for five years. While spending a week with friends in a city distant from home, her hidden talent was betrayed by the friends to the pastor of their church, where a revival was in progress, and persuasion that seemed to put a duty upon her finally procured her consent to sing a solo.

The church was crowded. With a force and feeling that can be easily guessed she sang Where Is My Boy Tonight? and finished the first stanza. She began the second…and as the congregation caught up the refrain…a young man who had been sitting in a back seat made his way up the aisle and sobbed, Mother, I’m here! The embrace of that mother and her long-lost boy turned the service into a general hallelujah. At the inquiry meeting that night there were many souls at the Mercy Seat who never knelt there before—and the young wanderer was one.”

Brown, Theron, and Hezekiah Butterworth. The Story of the Hymns and Tunes. New York: American Tract Society, 1906 pp. 446-7.