"Profitable to me for the ministry..." II TImothy 4:11
If Ira Sankey's first meeting with his future colleague seemed romantic, the events of the next few days were none the less interesting. The singer had never seriously considered giving up his business and was not yet ready to give Mr. Moody a pledge that he would sever his former relationships and join him in the evangelization of the great city of Chicago. The preacher confided in his new-found friend that his chief problem in connection with his meetings was the singing. Since he was no singer himself, he had been compelled to rely upon all kinds of persons to lead his song services. Often when he was about to "pull the net" at the conclusion of his message, much effect of the service was lost through poor singing. Sankey was definitely interested, but not yet ready to render a decision. The following day Moody asked him to meet him at a certain street corner. When the evangelist arrived, he made no explanations, but obtained a box from a store near by and asked Sankey to mount the box and sing something. The latter complied with "Am I a Soldier of the Cross. " Moody then began to speak. A large crowd of men leaving the mills gathered to listen. After a few minutes, he announced that the meeting would continue at the Opera House. Sankey led the group, singing, "Shall We Gather at the River," and the large Opera House was packed in a few minutes.
(taken from Ira D. Sankey - A Great Song Leader, by Helen F. Rothwell)