"Throw Out the Lifeline" is a great old hymn composed by Reverend Edward Smith Ufford, a Baptist minister who served in Maine and Massachusetts. In 1888 Reverend Ufford was visiting Point Allerton, near Boston. While there, he visited a lifesaving station on the coast and watched men practicing rescue procedures that they would use in the event of shipwreck. One of the drills they practiced involved throwing a lifeline to those struggling in the water. As he watched, it occurred to him how saving those in danger had parallels in the Christian's life. He went home and wrote the lyrics and melody to this hymn. Two years later, the song was purchased Ira Sankey who had George C. Stebbins harmonize it. It was published in 1890 and again in 1891 in Sankey's hymnals.
The hymn has been popular since its initial publication and has been recorded by such diverse artists as Ella Fitzgerald, Burl Ives, the Wilburn Brothers, Mahalia Jackson, and Shirley Caesar.