"O HOW KINDLY HAST THOU LED ME"
"Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness…" (Heb. 12.11)
INTRO.: A song which teaches and admonishes us to look to God for the chastening that will enable us to be led by Him is "O How Kindly Hast Thou Led Me." The text was written by Thomas Grinfield, who was born on Sept. 28, 1788. After being educated at Paul’s Cray, Kent, and Trinity College, Cambridge, he became a minister in 1813. In 1815 he published a book entitled Epistles and Miscellaneous Poems at London, and in 1824 he published The Omnipresence of God, with Other Sacred Poems at Bristol. Following a move to work at Shirland, Derbyshire, in 1827, he published his most famous work, A Century of Original Sacred Songs Composed for Favourite Airs in 1836. It contained "O How Kindly Hast Thou Led Me" in two stanzas of eight lines each, and entitled "Remembrance of the Way." I have taken the liberty of adding another stanza written by Edward Osler, who was born on Jan. 31, 1798, at Falmouth in Cornwall, England. It was first published in his journal Church and King of 1836, and appeared as a doxology for the hymn "Praise the Lord, Ye Heavens Adore Him" in the 1853 Church Hymnal of Cooke and Denton.
Osler is credited with some nineteen hymns and died on Mar. 7, 1863, at Truro in Cornwall. Grinfield authored eighteen hymns that continued for a while in common use and died in 1870. The tune (Middletown) is a traditional English melody to which Grinfield set his words in his 1836 work; I have been able to find no further information about it. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song, in two stanzas, appeared in 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; and the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch. Today it may be found in the same form in the 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 1986 Great Songs Revised edited by Forest M. McCann; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; as well as the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat.
The song reminds us of the importance of having God’s guidance in our lives.
I. Stanza 1 says that we should look to God that He might lead us
"O how kindly hast Thou led me, Heavenly Father, day by day;
Found my dwelling, clothed and fed me, Furnished friends to cheer my way!
Didst Thou bless me, didst Thou chasten, With Thy smile or with Thy rod,
‘Twas that still my step might hasten Homeward, heavenward, to my God."
A. It is God’s desire to lead His people through life just as He led the Israelites through the wilderness: Ps. 78.12-16
B. Part of His leading involves enabling us to have food, clothing, and shelter for our physical needs: Acts 14.15-17
C. Even though we may not always understand exactly how God does it, another aspect of His leading is that He chastens His people just as parents must discipline their children: Prov. 3.11-12
II. Stanza 2 says that we should follow God’s guidance
"O how slowly have I often Followed where Thy hand would draw!
How Thy kindness failed to soften! How Thy chastening failed to awe!
Make me for Thy rest more ready, As Thy path is longer trod;
Keep me in Thy friendship steady, Till Thou call me home, my God."
A. Sometimes even God’s own people are slow in following His guidance, just as Lot lingered when told to leave Sodom: Gen. 19.15-16
B. It may be that in many instances, our hearts are too hard to understand that God’s kindness and goodness are designed to lead us to repentance: Rom. 2.4
C. God still loves us anyway, but we need to remember that friendship with God means that we must keep His commandments: Jn. 15.14
III. Stanza 3 says that we should give praise to God for His blessings
"Worship, honor, glory, blessing, Lord, we offer unto Thee;
Young and old, Thy praise expressing, In glad homage bend the knee.
All the saints in heaven adore Thee; We would bow before Thy throne.
As Thine angels serve before Thee, So on earth Thy will be done."
A. God is worthy of our worship: Jn. 4.24
B. Therefore, we should bend the knee in glad homage to offer the sacrifice of praise to God: Heb. 13.15
C. Yet, we praise the God who leads us not only in word but also in deed by making sure that His will is done on earth in our lives as it is done in heaven: Matt. 6.9-10
CONCL.: This is a song with which I have not been familiar until more recent years. It was not in the hymnbooks that we used when I was growing up (Christian Hymns No. 1 and No. 2 and Sacred Selections). When I began working with the Haynes St. church at Dayton, OH, in 1987, we were using Songs of the Church and would occasionally sing the song. As a result of my studies into the history of hymns, I decided that Osler’s stanza beginning, "Worship, honor, glory, blessing," would make a fitting conclusion to praise the God to whom I could say, "O How Kindly Hast Thou Led Me."