“Lead Me Gently Home, Father”

"For Thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore…lead me, and guide me" (Psa. 31.3)

     INTRO.: A song which asks God to lead us through this life to the home that He has prepared for us is "Lead Me Gently Home, Father" (#60 in Hymns for Worship Revised and #462 in Sacred Selections for the Church).  The text was written and the tune was composed both by Will Lamartine Thompson (1847-1909). A native of East Liverpool, OH, he studied music at Mt. Union College in Alliance, OH, at the Boston, MA, Conservatory of Music, and at Leipzig, Germany. Establishing his own publishing firm in Chicago, IL, he produced several collections containing numerous of his own songs, at first primarily secular but later also sacred. Two of his more famous and still-used gospel song are "Jesus Is All The World To Me" and "Softly And Tenderly Jesus Is Calling." His "Lead Me Gently Home" was published in 1879. The copyright was renewed by the Hope Publishing Co.

     Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song appeared in the 1925 edition of the 1921 Great Songs of the Church (No. 1) and the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 both edited by E. L. Jorgenson’s; the 1935 Christian Hymns (No. 1), the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2, and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 all edited by L. O. Sanderson; the 1940 Complete Christian Hymnal edited by Marion Davis; the 1952 Hymns of Praise and Devotion edited by Will W. Slater; the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch; and the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater. Today it may be found in 1971 Songs of the Church, the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed., and the 1994 Songs of Faith and Praise all edited by Alton H. Howard; the 1978/1983 Church Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; in addition to Hymns for Worship, Sacred Selections, and the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat. Many of our books use only two stanzas.

     This song offers several reasons why we should want God to lead us.

I. Stanza 1 says that we should ask God to lead us because of life’s toils
"Lead me gently home, Father, lead me gently home,
When life’s toils are ended, And parting days have come;
Sin no more shall tempt me, Ne’er from Thee I’ll roam,
If Thou’lt only lead me, Father, Lead me gently home."
 A. The toils of life are often used generally of the burdens that we have to bear on this earth: Gen. 5.29, 41.51
 B. And these toils will continue until parting days come when we return to the dust of the ground: Gen. 3.17-19, Eccl. 12.7
 C. Sometimes, we may allow the toils and cares of this life to cause us to roam from God: Mk. 4.18-19. Therefore, we need to be careful about these things and seek God to lead us through

II. Stanza 2 says that we should ask God to lead us because of life’s troubles
"Lead me gently home, Father, lead me gently home,
In life’s darkest hours, Father, When life’s troubles come;
Keep my feet from wandering, Lest from Thee I’ll roam,
Lest I fall upon the wayside, Lead me gently home."
 A. Everyone will agree that this earthly life is full of trouble: Job 14.1
 B. Such troubles often produce dark hours in our lives, such as they did even in the life of Jesus: Lk. 22.53 (for us, these may be persecutions by evil men, or may be the natural tribulations that come to all who dwell on this sin-cursed earth)
 C. And these troubles often present opportunities for our feet to wander from the Lord by causing us to doubt: Ps. 55.1-7. Because of these things, we should look to the Lord to lead us through them.

III. Stanza 3 says that we should ask God to lead us because of temptations
"Lead me gently home, Father, lead me gently home,
In temptation’s hour, Father, when sore trials come;
Be Thou near to keep me, Take me as Thine own,
For I cannot live without Thee, Lead me gently home."
 A. Temptation is the avenue through which Satan entices us to sin: Jas. 1.13-15
 B. And these temptations serve as trials to test our faith, whether we will continue to obey the Lord or not: 1 Pet. 1.6-9
 C. But God has promised to be near us in our temptations and make a way of escape for us if we shall take it: 1 Cor. 10.13. Hence, we should always pray that the Lord will lead us away from temptation

IV. Stanza 4 says that we should ask God to lead us because of our hope of heaven:
"Lead me gently home, Father, lead me gently home,
While I humbly follow and when my pleasures come;
Give to me my portion, Those across the foam,
Such, the glory never fadeth, Lead me gently home."
 A. While in this life we face toils, troubles, and temptations, we can look forward to a time when we shall have pleasures at God’s right hand evermore: Psa. 16.7-11
 B. Thus, we can be assured that God has prepared an eternal home for His people as their portion: Lk. 12.42
 C. And this portion will include "those across the foam"–the redeemed of all ages where the "glory never fadeth": Rev. 22.1-5. We need to remember that we can find that eternal home only if we turn to the Lord to lead us there and follow His leading.

     CONCL.: The chorus underscores the fact that we must have God to lead us or else we shall fall upon the wayside.
"Lead me gently home, Father, Lead me gently home, Father,
Lest I fall upon the wayside, Lead me gently home."
This song is not the easiest to sing because it requires basses who know what they are doing in the chorus. But it has a wonderful message. I have already faced various toils, troubles, and temptations in life, and will likely face many more before parting days shall come. If it is my desire to have the eternal reward that the Lord promises His followers, I must constantly be asking, "Lead Me Gently Home, Father."


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