Posted by: rcottrill | February 4, 2015

The Touch of His Hand on Mine

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Words: Jessie H. Brown Pounds (b. Aug. 31, 1861; d. Mar. 3, 1921)
Music: Henry P. Morton (b. _____, 1870; d. _____, 1942)

Wordwise Hymns (Jessie Pounds)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Jessie Pounds is a well known gospel song writer. She produced fifty cantata texts, and more than four hundred gospel song texts. Little is known, however, of the composer of the tune used with the present song.

For a more detailed discussion of the use of the word “touch” in our hymns, see the note on the previous song, He Touched Me. I realize this is a poetic way of describing a spiritual reality, but I still feel caution is needed if we are to avoid a sensual, sexy connotation to it–especially with the former song’s, “Oh, He touched me!”

Perhaps that’s one reason why hymn writers tend to avoid the expression. There are a few that come to mind, but not many. A couple of examples:

¤ In the final stanza of Henry Twells’ fine hymn, At Even Ere the Sun Was Set, the first line says, “Thy touch has still its ancient power.” But we can see the importance of the word there, since the writer is describing the healing ministry of Christ during His time on earth, and assuring us that He can still bring healing today.

¤ In the final stanza of Mary Lathbury’s Break Thou the Bread of Life, is the couplet:

O send Thy Spirit, Lord, now unto me,
That He may touch my eyes, and make me see:

But here again there is a connection to the healing ministry of Christ (cf. Matt. 20:32-34). And the writer is careful to distance us from that earthly ministry, by looking to the ministry of the Holy Spirit for the spiritual insight she needs.

On the other hand, especially with the Gaither song, and also with this one, these qualifying conditions do not apply as clearly. “My Friend divine” seems to be a reference to the Lord Jesus, and Mrs. Pounds rejoices (sixteen times, counting the refrains) on the touch of the Lord’s hand. I do realize this is intended in a non-material or spiritual sense. However, I still contend that a little of this kind of anthropomorphism goes a long way (cf. II Cor. 4:18; 5:7). An anthropomorphism attributes physical characteristics to God, who is a spirit Being (Jn. 4:24).

Having dealt with this concern, let me say that there is still merit in this 1913 gospel song. It addresses four circumstances in the Christian life, that are dealt with or ameliorated by the loving intervention of the Lord.

In CH-1 there is a need for direction and guidance, and the Lord can certainly provide that, through prayer and the study of His Word, through the counsel of Christian friends, and so on (Ps. 32:8; Prov. 3:5-6; Jas. 1:5).

CH-1) There are days so dark that I seek in vain
For the face of my Friend divine;
But though darkness hide, He is there to guide
By the touch of His hand on mine.

Oh, the touch of His hand on mine,
Oh, the touch of His hand on mine,
There is grace and power, in the trying hour,
In the touch of His hand on mine.

CH-2 deals with times of temptation in which the Lord can strengthen our resistance and protect us (Matt. 6:13; I Cor. 10:13). CH-3 seems to be reflecting on times of doubt and discouragement. There too the Lord can help us (Ps. 43:5; Mk. 9:24).

CH-3) When the way is dim, and I cannot see
Through the mist of His wise design,
How my glad heart yearns and my faith returns
By the touch of His hand on mine.

Finally, even in the hour of death, we can be assured of God’s loving care. He will unfailingly deliver us to our heavenly home (Ps. 73:24; Jn. 14:3).

CH-4) In the last sad hour, as I stand alone,
Where the powers of death combine,
While the dark waves roll He will guide my soul
By the touch of His hand on mine.

1) How would you define, in spiritual terms, what the author means by the touch of God’s hand?

2) If you were able to add a stanza to this song, what would it’s subject be? (That is, in what other area do you appreciate the touch of God?)

Wordwise Hymns (Jessie Pounds)
The Cyber Hymnal


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