Inside view shows sheet music side by side with hymn history.

No less than five prominent musicians and publishers turned this song down. Finally, the Fillmore Music House, of which Charles Fillmore was a part, decided that they would publish it themselves even though they, too, had some misgiving. A published copy was sent to Charles M. Alexander, who was the songleader for Dr. R.A. Torrey. He, too, looked at the song and wondered if he could ever use it, but decided he would put it in his briefcase for reference. He carried it with him for over two years and had really never thought about the song again until one Sunday afternoon the meeting was just for railroad men, and Charlie needed a solo that would speak to men's hearts.

"Where Is My Wandering Boy" was getting almost threadbare. What else could he use? His mind went to the song that Fillmore had sent. He soon found it and that afternoon sang it as an invitation. Hundreds of men responded and, in the years that followed, he sang it around the world and declared that "Tell Mother I'll Be There" had brought more men to decide for Jesus Christ than any other song he ever used.

The inspiration for its writing came from a telegram sent by President McKinley to his family when his mother was dying and calling for him. He had wired, "Tell Mother I'll Be There". Charles Fillmore had read the newspaper account of this and had caught the idea for a song -- one which experts thought not good, but one that God would used to change the lives and eternal destinies of thousands of men.

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