HOW TO USE THIS BLOG
1) The Almanac. Click on the month you want in the side-bar, then the specific date. The blog will tell you what happened in hymn history on that day.
2) Reflections. There is always a current article on a hymn. But you can find many others by clicking on the Index tab. (More being added all the time.)
3) Topical Articles are opinion pieces on many aspects sacred music.
4) To Donate. If you can help with the cost of developing and maintaining this site, click on the “Support” tab above and the page will show you how.
Also see 30+ Ideas for Promoting Hymn Singing in your church.
Words: Sarah Doudney (b. Jan. 15, 1841; d. Dec. 15, 1926)
Music: Ash Grove, a traditional Welsh Melody
Notes: In 1871, English author Sarah Doudney published this hymn about following the Lord. In recent hymn books it is wedded to the tune of an old Welsh folk song called The Ash Grove, which seems a good fit. The melody dates from 1862 or earlier. It has been used for some newer hymns as well.
A friend said to me one day, “I just saw a little boy marching across the school playground with great determination. Then he turned his head, waved his arm, and shouted, ‘Follow me, men!’ But,” said my friend with a grin, “there was no one behind him!”
We chuckled at that. Childhood imagination is amazing. Perhaps the boy envisaged himself as an army commander, leading his troops into battle. But he could as easily be Superman the next day, or a cowboy on the prairies.
Adults can have their daydreams too. Author James Thurber published a story in 1939 called The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Walter was a meek and ordinary man, but he had a wild fantasy life. There he was in charge, the leader of the pack. He imagined himself being a wartime pilot, a surgeon, and even a heartless killer. But that points to a darker side to the tale. Even Walter’s fantasies often ended badly. Being a murderer put him before an imaginary firing squad! And his real life, though well-meaning, was so many times bumbling and ineffectual.
Leading and following are a part of many phases of our lives, but those relationships do not always function well. There are those who try to lead, but few seem willing to follow them. Then, some would-be followers seem to wander in life, with no leader at all. The Bible says that when Christ “saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd” (Matt. 9:36).
Other people definitely choose the wrong leader. This sometimes happens, for example, when young people idolize a corrupt entertainment star or sports hero. In Jesus’ day, it was the hypocritical Pharisees who often led the Jewish people astray. The Lord made a cutting comment about them: “They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch” (Matt. 15:14).
Some seemed to try living with two sets of values–in effect, two different leaders–at the same time. That won’t work. Of them the Lord Jesus said, “”No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon [money]” (Matt. 6:24).
In contrast, the Lord Jesus Christ is the perfect Leader for us. And every Christian worker should be followed only to the extent that he or she consistently follows the Lord. As Paul put it, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (I Cor. 11:1, NIV).
The Lord Jesus Christ has, in infinite supply, the knowledge and wisdom needed to lead us (Col. 2:2-3). His word is true, His promises are sure (Jn. 1:14, 17; II Cor. 1:20). He has both the power and authority to direct us (Phil. 4:13, 19; Acts 10:36). And we are given an eternally worthy goal, as His followers: “We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God” (II Cor. 5:20; cf. Matt. 28:18-20 ).
Sarah Doudney’s hymn issues a challenge to each believer. Though Jesus, in calling His disciples, said to several, “Follow Me,” this hymn may have been inspired by another call, Martha’s message to her sister Mary: “The Master is come, and calleth for thee” (Jn. 11:28, KJV).
CH-1) The Master hath come, and He calls us to follow
The track of the footprints He leaves on our way;
Far over the mountain and through the deep hollow,
The path leads us on to the mansions of day:
The Master hath called us, the children who fear Him,
Who march ’neath Christ’s banner, His own little band;
We love Him and seek Him, we long to be near Him,
And rest in the light of His beautiful land.
CH-2) The Master hath called us; the road may be dreary
And dangers and sorrows are strewn on the track;
But God’s Holy Spirit shall comfort the weary;
We follow the Savior and cannot turn back;
The Master hath called us, though doubt and temptation
May compass our journey, we cheerfully sing:
“Press onward, look upward,” through much tribulation;
The children of Zion must follow the King.
CH-3) The Master hath called us, in life’s early morning,
With spirits as fresh as the dew on the sod:
We turn from the world, with its smiles and its scorning,
To cast in our lot with the people of God:
The Master hath called us, His sons and His daughters,
We plead for His blessing and trust in His love;
And through the green pastures, beside the still waters,
He’ll lead us at last to His kingdom above.
1) If following Christ becomes difficult, what assurances and help do we have?
2) In (or into) what kind of Christian service is the Lord presently leading you?