He leadeth me! O blessèd thought!
O words with Heavenly comfort fraught!
Whate’er I do, where’er I be,
Still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me.
He leadeth me, He leadeth me!
By His own hand He leadeth me;
His faithful follower I will be,
For by His hand He leadeth me.
Sometimes ‘mid scenes of deepest gloom,
Sometimes where Eden’s bowers bloom,
By waters still, o’er troubled sea,
Still ’tis His hand that leadeth me.
Lord, I would clasp Thy hand in mine,
Nor ever murmur or repine,
Content, whatever lot I see,
Since ’tis my God that leadeth me.
And when my task on earth is done,
When by Thy grace the victory’s won,
E’en death’s cold wave I will not flee,
Since God through Jordan leadeth me.
As autumn begins here in Canada, as well as in some other parts of the world, we see flocks of birds wending their way southward to warmer living places for the next few months. Some birds even make their flights during the night. All are led by natural instinct that we humans cannot grasp, but only speculate on. Robert J. Morgan, in his introduction to the story behind the above hymn, says that if we are of more value to God than sparrows, as Jesus stated, then surely God can be counted on to lead us, too. He does not mention that the problem with us humans is that we have free will with which to choose to follow God’s leading, or to ignore it!then surely God can be counted on to lead us Click To Tweet
Now for the quite amazing story behind the song. When Dr. Joseph Gilmore of New Hampshire had just recently graduated from Newton Theological Seminary, he served as a supply minister for a couple of Sundays in 1862 in the First Baptist Church of Philadelphia. For a midweek service, he planned to do an exposition of Psalm 23. As he began preparing his message, he got no further than the words, “He leadeth me…” Gilmore felt that the words took hold of him as never before, and seemed to have special significance. In his message he emphasized that it doesn’t matter how or where God leads us, as long as we are sure that He is indeed leading. A few people lingered to discuss the thoughts of the message. Dr. Gilmore says: “Then and there, on a blank page of the brief from which I had intended to speak, I pencilled the hymn, talking and writing at the same time, then handed it to my wife and thought no more about it.” Mrs. Gilmore sent the poem to a Boston paper, where it was printed. It wasn’t until 1865 that Dr. Gilmore learned that his words had been set to music by William Bradbury. Quoting Gilmore again: “I went to Rochester to preach as a candidate before the Second Baptist Church. Going into their chapel… I picked up a hymnal to see what they were singing, and opened it at my own hymn, He Leadeth Me.we have free will with which to choose to follow God’s leading, or to ignore it! Click To Tweet
WORDS: JOSEPH GILMORE MUSIC: WILLIAM BRADBURY
S.A. SONG BOOK, 2015 EDITION, #645; 1987 EDITION, #725
REFERENCE: MORGAN, ROBERT J., THEN SINGS MY SOUL