Words: Jessie H. Brown Pounds (b. Aug. 31, 1861; d. Mar. 3, 1921); Helen Cadbury Alexander (b. Jan. 10, 1877; d. Mar. 1, 1969)
Music: Daniel Brink Towner (b. Apr. 5, 1850; d. Oct. 3, 1919)
Note: Stanzas CH-1, 2 and 5 were written by Jessie Pounds, and CH-3 and 4 were added by Helen Alexander about thirty years later. As described in the Wordwise Hymns link, the latter woman, whose maiden name was Helen Cadbury, was an heir to the immense Cadbury Chocolate fortune, but turned her back on wealth and social standing to be a humble servant of Christ.
Not only is this hymn somewhat unusual, being the work of two authors, it was also written backward. That is, Daniel Towner wrote the music first. That in itself is not unique. Often, for example, a composer would bring a tune to Fanny Crosby and ask her to write words to fit it. But Mr. Towner’s experience was different.
In 1866, Daniel Towner was working with evangelist Dwight L. Moody in some meetings in Binghamton, New York. One evening, Mr. Moody preached a powerful sermon, picturing Christ as the Captain of our lives, saying that we could therefore go anywhere with Him, confident that the Lord would see us through. He illustrated this with reference to the three Hebrews cast into a fiery furnace, then Daniel in a den of lions (Daniel chapters 3 and 6), and other passages.
Inspired by the message, Daniel Towner thought to himself, “There ought to be a song written with that theme.” With that, he sat down and composed a melody, trying to put into the notes something of how he felt. He sent the tune to a hymn writer named Jesse Brown, who lived in Cleveland. (Jesse Brown married a pastor named Rev. John Pounds in 1896, and now her name in our hymn books is usually listed as Jesse Brown Pounds.) Towner told her that he wanted the words to say, “Anywhere with Jesus.” The hymn, with the later addition, is the result.
CH-1) Anywhere with Jesus I can safely go,
Anywhere He leads me in this world below;
Anywhere without Him dearest joys would fade;
Anywhere with Jesus I am not afraid.
Anywhere, anywhere! Fear I cannot know;
Anywhere with Jesus I can safely go.
“Anywhere!” Counting all five stanzas and their refrains, it’s repeated twenty-seven times. Some are called of God to minister to their families, in their community, and in their local church. Others are called to go to distant places, even to other lands, and serve among those with a dramatically different culture.
The point is not that one individual is better or more heroic than the other. How can we deny the exalted position of a godly mother who raises her children to love and serve the Lord, or that of a faithful pastor of a small and struggling church. No, the point being addressed is that, as disciples of Christ, we ought to be prepared to go anywhere and do any work the Master assigns to us.
And we can go wherever the Lord leads us with the full assurance that He will be with us, and that we will know His wise and loving care, wherever we are. David was confident of that (Ps. 139:7-12), and we now have the Lord’s personal declaration, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).
CH-3) Anywhere with Jesus I am not alone;
Other friends may fail me, He is still my own;
Though His hand may lead me over dreary ways,
Anywhere with Jesus is a house of praise.
The final stanza seems to speak of more than simply a night’s sleep. Even if we sleep the sleep of death, we can be confident of waking with the Lord Jesus in our heavenly home (II Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:21-24).
CH-5) Anywhere with Jesus I can go to sleep,
When the dark’ning shadows round about me creep,
Knowing I shall waken nevermore to roam;
Anywhere with Jesus will be home, sweet home.
1) Perhaps some consider ministry in distant places will be more difficult. Sometimes this is so. But what kinds of things can make ministry at home difficult too?
2) Take a look at the full hymn in the Cyber Hymnal link. What are some advantages and blessings of having the Lord with us anywhere He may lead?