Posted by: rcottrill | December 3, 2018

Stand by Me

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Words: Charles Albert Tindley (b. July 7, 1851; d. July 26, 1933)
Music: Charles Albert Tindley

Wordwise Hymns (Charles Tindley)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Charles Tindley married Daisy Henry when he was seventeen. Together they had eight children, some of whom would later assist him with the publication of his hymns. One of the sons, Albert, sang at our church in Ontario, many years ago.

The young man busied himself tidying and sweeping the floor of a small church in Philadelphia. He was the janitor, and this was part of his regular routine. Little in his life at that time suggested the wonderful ways God would use him in the future.

He was Charles Albert Tindley. His story is one of striving to overcome hardship, and succeeding, by the grace of God. The African American son of Charles and Esther Tindley, Charles’s father was a slave, but his mother was a free woman. Thus, he was born free, but brought up among enslaved people. His mother died when he was four years old, and he was separated from his father a year later. Charles was raised by his Aunt Caroline.

In that day, slave owners considered it dangerous for blacks to receive an education. But after the Emancipation Proclamation young Charles taught himself to read and write. He moved to Philadelphia, where he started work as a janitor, attending school in the evenings, and taking a correspondence course. He mastered Hebrew and Greek, largely on his own, and prepared himself for Christian ministry.

In 1902 he became the pastor of the church where he’d once worked as janitor. It grew steadily under his leadership until, at the time of his death, it had 12,500 members. Most unusual for the time, it was an integrated congregation, with both blacks and whites serving in leadership positions. In spite of Pastor Tindley’s objections, the church was renamed the Tindley Temple Methodist Church.

As well as being a busy pastor, Charles Tindley wrote a number of fine gospel songs. In fact, he is considered one of the founding fathers of American gospel music. He wrote: We’ll Understand It Better By and By; Nothing Between My Soul and the Saviour; and Take Your Burden to the Lord and Leave It There. His song I’ll Overcome Some Day was adapted by the Civil Rights Movement, and became We Shall Overcome.

What we’ll look at here is Tindley’s 1905 song Stand by Me. There’s a popular song from 1960 that uses that title–and even claims to be inspired by the original. But there’s a serious difference. The later number is a love song (“Darlin’ Stand by Me”), whereas Tindley’s is a prayer hymn, that makes clear again and again he’s calling on God for help.

To “stand by” someone is to be loyal and supportive, and the Bible tells us, especially in the book of Psalms, that the Lord draws near, and stands by those who trust in Him. “You are near, O Lord,” says the psalmist (Ps. 119:151).

¤ “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Ps. 46:1).

¤ “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth” (Ps. 145:18).

But the Lord Jesus identified a problem with some of His hearers. “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honour Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me” (Matt. 15:8). Yet when we truly seek Him, in sincerity, He is there.“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (Jas. 4:8).

There are five solid stanzas to Charles Tindley’s song. One seems to make reference to his struggle against racial prejudice: “In the midst of persecution, stand by me” (Stanza 4).

CH-1) When the storms of life are raging,
Stand by me;
When the storms of life are raging,
Stand by me;
When the world is tossing me
Like a ship upon the sea
Thou who rulest wind and water,
Stand by me.

CH-2) In the midst of tribulation,
Stand by me;
In the midst of tribulation,
Stand by me;
When the hosts of hell assail,
And my strength begins to fail,
Thou who never lost a battle,
Stand by me.

CH-5) When I’m growing old and feeble,
Stand by me;
When I’m growing old and feeble,
Stand by me;
When my life becomes a burden,
And I’m nearing chilly Jordan,
O Thou “Lily of the Valley,”
Stand by me.

1) In what experience in the past were you especially conscious of the Lord standing by you?

2) For what trouble or trial ahead do you need the Lord to stand by you?

Wordwise Hymns (Charles Tindley)
The Cyber Hymnal


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