Precious Lord, Take My Hand

Have you ever had one of those seasons when it seems everything you touch crumbles and everything you try to do fails?  Me, too.  Have you had the kind of tragedy in your life that took your breath away, shook you to your core and you couldn’t imagine how to go on? I have, and if you haven’t yet, the reality is that you likely will someday. Things happen to us and around us as the part of life that is real and difficult and painful.

Rev. Thomas Dorsey (1899-1993) knew that kind of pain.  In 1932, while in Chicago leading a church service,  he received a message saying his wife died in childbirth. Their infant son died shortly afterwards, and Nettie and the baby were buried in a single coffin.  Although Dorsey had written many hymns, he now questioned God and felt he could never write another gospel song.  In time, with peace came a new song.  At a piano, playing a hymn tune familiar to him (MAITLAND, by George N. Allen) Dorsey began to sing new words, words of confession, a cry for help, and comfort from God’s presence:

Precious Lord, take my hand
Lead me on, let me stand
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn
Through the storm, through the night
Lead me on to the light
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

When my way grows drear
Precious Lord linger near
When my life is almost gone
Hear my cry, hear my call
Hold my hand lest I fall
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

When the darkness appears
And the night draws near
And the day is past and gone
At the river I stand
Guide my feet, hold my hand
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

Psalm 139:7-12 (NIV) also speaks of God’s persistent presence:

Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence?  If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.  If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.  If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

The Psalmist knew it,  Dorsey knew it, and I hope you do, too:  God simply will not let you go.

In the video clip that follows, we have a rare opportunity to see and hear Thomas Dorsey.  The clip begins with him working with a choir, and ends with the first-hand account of the writing of “Precious Lord, Take My Hand.”

This clip is of Mahalia Jackson singing the hymn.

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