The Good Shepherd by D. N. Howe

There were ninety and nine
Of a flock, sleek and fine
In a sheltering cote in the vale;
But a lamb was away,
On the mountain astray,
Unprotected within the safe pale.
 
Then the sleet and the rain
On the mountain and plain,
And the wind fiercely blowing a gale,
And the night's growing dark,
And the wolf's hungry bark
Stir the soul of the shepherd so hale.
 
And he says, "Hireling, go;
For a lamb's in the snow
And exposed to the wild hungry beast;
'Tis no time to keep seat,
Nor to rest weary feet,
Nor to sit at a bounteous feast."
 
Then the hireling replied,
"Here you have at your side
All your flock save this one little sheep.
Are the ninety and nine,
All so safe and so fine,
Not enough for the shepherd to keep?"
 
Then the shepherd replied,
"Ah! this lamb from my side
Presses near, very near, to my heart.
Not its value in pay
Makes me urge in this way,
But the longings and achings of heart."
 
"Let me wait till the day,
O good shepherd, I pray;
For I shudder to go in the dark
On the mountain so high
And its precipice nigh
'Mong the wolves with their frightening bark."
 
Then the shepherd said, "No;
Surely some one must go
Who can rescue my lamb from the cold,
From the wolf's hungry maw
And the lion's fierce paw
And restore it again to the fold."
 
Then the shepherd goes out
With his cloak girt about
And his rod and his staff in his hand.
What cares he for the cold
If his sheep to the fold
He can bring from the dark mountain land?
 
You can hear his clear voice
As the mountains rejoice,
"Sheepy sheep, sheepy sheep, sheepy sheep!"
Up the hillside so steep,
Into caverns so deep,
"Sheepy sheep, sheepy sheep, sheepy sheep!"
 
Now he hears its weak "baa,"
And he answers it, "Ah!
Sheepy sheep, sheepy sheep, sheepy sheep!"
Then its answering bleat
Hurries on his glad feet,
And his arms gather up his lost sheep.
 
Wet and cold on his breast
The lost lamb found its rest
As he bore it adown to the fold.
And the ninety and nine
Bleat for joy down the line,
That it's safe from the wolf and the cold.
 
Then he said to his friends,
"Now let joy make amends
For the steeps and the deeps I have crossed—
For the pelting of sleet
And my sore, weary feet,
For I've found the dear lamb that was lost."
 
Let the hirelings upbraid
For the nights that He stayed
On the mountains so rugged and high.
Surely never a jeer
From my lips shall one hear,
For—that poor lonely lambkin—was—I.
 
While the eons shall roll
O'er my glad ransomed soul
I will praise the Good Shepherd above,
For a place on His breast,
For its comfort and rest,
For His wonderful, wonderful love.