Posted by: rcottrill | January 22, 2018

Precious Lord, Take My Hand

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Words: Thomas Andrew Dorsey (b. July 1, 1899; d. Jan. 23, 1993)
Music: Maitland, by George Nelson Allen (b. Sept. 7, 1812; d. Dec. 9, 1877), adapted for the present song by Thomas Andrew Dorsey

Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Dorsey, known early on as a blues pianist called Georgia Tom, went on to be called the father of black gospel music. He also founded the first black gospel music publishing company. Mr. Dorsey was not only a church musician for decades, but wrote many gospel songs. A few of these, including the present hymn, his most popular, as well as There’ll Be Peace in the Valley, have made their way into some of our hymn books and popular gospel songbooks.

The debased and depraved character Gollum, in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, speaks of the magic ring as “the precious”–or “my precious,” a thing he desires above all else. But we learn the very thing he so esteems and desires is what has utterly corrupted him and poisoned his life.

The word “precious” identifies something of great price, something specially valued and held in high honour. Some gems are called precious stones. The most common of these are the diamond, the ruby, the sapphire, and the emerald. They are also listed among the twelve birth stones, each being identified with a particular month of the year.

In the case of gems, sometimes the high value has to do in part with demand. The more a stone is seen as desirable, the more it will cost. However, preciousness can also have to do with rarity. Painite (named after discoverer Arthur Pain) ranks high in this regard. For decades following the find in the 1950’s, there were only two known specimens on earth. A little more has since been unearthed, but there are still fewer than twenty-five of the gems known to exist.

In the Bible, the word precious is used often of jewels (e.g. II Sam. 12:30) and of costly ointment (e.g. Isa. 39:2). We would expect that to be the case. But many times the word is applied to spiritual things and to the Lord Himself. Both are to be specially valued and held in high honour by believers.

David declares, “How precious is Your lovingkindness [Your unfailing love], O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings” (Ps. 36:7). And Peter writes, “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness… [including] exceedingly great and precious promises” (II Pet. 1:3-4).

When we go through times of trial, they can prove and strengthen the sincerity of our faith in God, that “the genuineness of [our] faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honour, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (I Pet. 1:7). And we ourselves are precious to God. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints” (Ps. 116:15).

Judging by its frequency in the New Testament (and particularly in First Peter), it seems what is most valued by Christians is intimately associated with the coming of Christ. To begin with, the Son is precious to God the Father. He was “chosen by God [to be our Saviour] and precious (I Pet. 2:4).

That should affect our own attitude toward Him. “To you who believe, He is precious” (I Pet. 2:7). We are saved through faith in what Christ did for us on the cross of Calvary, redeemed “with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (I Pet. 1:19).

A quick check shows that there are many hymns and gospel songs which use our word. John Fawcett wrote, “How precious is the Book divine” (i.e. the Bible). And especially common is the exaltation of Christ. For example: “Precious to my heart is Jesus” (by Henry Jackson); “Jesus is the precious Friend” (by Eliza Hewitt); “So precious is Jesus my Saviour and King” (by Charles Gabriel); “O Saviour, precious Saviour” (by Frances Havergal).

More recent than these is the 1932 prayer hymn by Thomas Dorsey. When his wife died in childbirth (and the baby died too) Mr. Dorsey reached out in his grief to the One who meant more to him than any other. During this painful time of sorrow, he called upon God to strengthen and guide him. And his song appeals to the Lord for His comforting presence, “even through the valley of the shadow of death” (Ps. 23:4).

Whether or not we use the actual word, may the Lord always be precious to us, all through life’s journey, whatever we’re called upon to pass through on the way. As closing words of the hymn, O Sacred Head, Now Wounded put it:

O make me Thine forever;
And should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never
Outlive my love for Thee.

“To you who believe, He is precious” (I Pet. 2:7). And may it ever be so.

CH-1) 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.

CH-3) 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.

1) What significant personal struggle are you facing right now?

2) Is there someone you know and can encourage and help, who’s going through a trial at this time?

Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal


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