Posted by: rcottrill | October 9, 2015

Where He Leads Me

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Words: Ernest William Blandy (dates unknown)
Music: John Samuel Norris (b. Dec. 4, 1844; d. Sept. 23, 1907)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Relatively little is known of Mr. Blandy, except what is related below. (He is, in fact, identified as Mr. Blandly in some earlier publications of the song.) John Norris was a Methodist pastor in Canada. But whether he wrote the tune, or simply arranged it, as some hymn books have it, I’m not sure.

The song itself, with it’s repeated lines, sounds somewhat like an African American Spiritual. One hymn book has “I have heard my Saviour calling” in the first stanza. Though that is not likely the original wording, it works well, with the remainder of the song being a response to the call.

Follow the leader is an old children’s game. A leader is chosen, and the other children line up behind. Then, the game calls for all to do as the leader does. Any who fail are out of the game. It can be fun. But, of course, it could be harmful too, if the leader decides to do something that could endanger himself or others.

Following leaders is something adults do, as well. There are leaders in government, leaders in families, leaders in the entertainment world (in a little different way), and leaders in churches too. If they have wisdom and skill, and moral integrity, those who follow them can benefit from doing so. Otherwise, there could be serious dangers.

In the Gospels, the Lord Jesus called various ones to follow Him. Some merely did so because they were entertained by His miracles (Jn. 6:2). But Jesus’ summons meant more. It was a call to discipleship, a call to both learn from, and serve Him. One day, Christ encountered two fishermen named Peter and Andrew. “He said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ They immediately left their nets and followed Him” (Matt. 4:19-20).

Seeking their own followers at that time were the leaders of the Jews. Many had adopted a kind of outward conformity to religion, behaviour that lacked true spiritual motives and love for the Lord. In fact, they had added to the Old Testament Law all kinds of petty rules, and sought to bring people into bondage to them. Christ’s evaluation of this was blunt: “They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch” (Matt. 15:14).

It is possible to have spiritual leaders who help us today, but they must themselves be committed followers of Christ–ones who can say with Paul, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (I Cor. 11:1). We must not lose sight of the Lord, in following the example or instruction of a pastor or some other spiritual mentor.

Ernest William Blandy was a Salvation Army officer who lived a century ago. We know little about him, but he wrote a simple song in 1890 about following the Lord. It says:

CH-1) I can hear my Saviour calling,
I can hear my Saviour calling,
I can hear my Saviour calling,
“Take thy cross and follow, follow Me.”

Where He leads me I will follow,
Where He leads me I will follow,
Where He leads me I will follow;
I’ll go with Him, with Him, all the way.

The basic idea of the hymn comes from the words of Jesus, “If anyone desires to come after Me [to be my disciple], let him deny himself [i.e. say no to selfishness and self will], and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matt. 16:24).

The cross in that case represents a commitment to identify one’s self with the Lord Jesus, and walk in obedience to His will, even when it brings suffering and loss. For Blandy, this was personal. He was offered a comfortable ministry in an established church, but turned it down, taking instead an assignment in New York City, in a slum area called Hell’s Kitchen.

There is one stanza of the hymn that may not be true to Scripture–depending on exactly what the author had in mind. It says:

CH-3) I’ll go with Him through the judgment,
I’ll go with Him through the judgment,
I’ll go with Him through the judgment,
I’ll go with Him, with Him all the way.

However, if Ernest Blandy was thinking of the judgment for the world’s sin which Jesus bore on the cross, it is neither possible nor necessary that we do that. Christ bore sin’s punishment for us, so that we would be delivered from judgment (Jn. 5:24; I Pet. 3:18).

The author is on firmer ground with a later stanza that says: “He will give me grace and glory.” As the Bible says, “The LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD will give grace and glory” (Ps. 84:11). Grace first–God’s daily enablement to learn and serve as His followers–and glorious blessing yet to come, in our heavenly home.

CH-4) He will give me grace and glory,
He will give me grace and glory,
He will give me grace and glory,
And go with me, with me all the way.

1) Where has the Lord led you in time past, and how has His grace provided for you there?

2) Where is the Lord leading you these days, in terms of your service for Him?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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