"SAVIOR, LEAD ME LEST I STRAY"
"Lead me, O Lord, in Thy righteousness…" (Psa. 5.8)
INTRO.: A song which asks the Lord to lead us in His righteousness so that we shall not stray away from it is, "Savior, Lead Me Lest I Stray" (#99 in Hymns for Worship Revised and #168 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written and the tune (Lead Me) was composed both by Frank M. Davis, who was born on Jan. 23, 1839, near Marcellus in Onondaga County, NY. During his life, he traveled extensively, living at different times in Marcellus, NY; Vicksburg, MS; Baltimore, MD; Cincinnati, OH; and Burr Oak and Findley, MI. A teacher of voice and instrumental classes, he had charge of choirs in various places and was known as a fine soloist. His first published composition appeared in Waverly Magazine. Some of his compilations include Notes of Praise, Brightest Glory, and in 1877 New Pearls of Song.
I have been able to find very little other information about Davis but several of his hymns have been in our hymnbooks. He wrote music for Eden R. Latta’s "Live For Jesus" and Mary Ann Kidder’s "Is My Name Written There." Also, his songs, "O Rock In The Desert" and "Some Day We Shall Be Satisfied," appeared in the Christian Hymns books published by Gospel Advocate and his "Gliding Away" was in some older books. Someone has suggested that he might have been related to Marion Davis, who edited several hymnbooks used among churches of Christ in the middle twentieth century, but I have not been able to confirm this. "Savior, Leade Me Lest I Stray" was first published in the 1882 book Carols of Joy. Davis never married and died on Aug. 1, 1896, at Chesterfield, IN.
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 1921 Great Songs of the Church (No. 1) and the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 both edited by E. L. Jorgenson; 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 1938/1944 New Wonderful Songs edited by Thomas S. Cobb; the 1959 Majestic Hymnal No. 2 and the 1978 Hymns of Praise both edited by Reuel Lemmons; 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 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 1978/1983 Church Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; and 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.
The song is a request for the Lord to lead us.
I. Stanza 1 asks the Lord to lead us that we might not stray
"Savior, leade me lest I stray, Gently lead me all the way;
I am safe when by Thy side, I would in Thy love abide."
A. We need to be led because, like sheep, we are always in danger of straying if we do not have someone to lead us: 1 Pet. 2.25
B. Jesus has a way in which He wants us to go, and it is a strait and narrow way, so we need His leadership to follow it: Matt. 7.13-14
C. But in order for Him to be able to lead us, we must abide in Him and His love: Jn. 15.4-7
II. Stanza 2 asks the Lord to lead us in safety
"Thou the refuge of my soul, When life’s stormy billows roll;
I am safe when Thou art nigh, All my hopes on Thee rely."
A. The Lord is the only true refuge for our souls to protect us when the storms of life come raging: Ps. 46.1
B. Therefore, we can be assured that we will be safe when He is nigh to us and we are nigh to Him: Ps. 12.1-5
C. Because Christ came to bring us this refuge from God that we might be protected, all our hopes on Him rely: Heb. 6.18-20
III. Stanza 3 asks the Lord to lead us until the storm of life is past
"Savior, lead me, then at last, When the storm of life is past
To the land of endless day, Where all tears are wiped away."
A. At last refers to the time of death, which is an appointment for all men to keep: Heb. 9.27
B. Our prayer should be that even in death the Lord will lead us to the land of endless day where we shall have everlasting life: Matt. 25.35 & 46, Mk. 10.30
C. And if we have followed Him faithfully in this life, we can have the confidence that we shall be with Him where all tears are wiped away: Rev. 21.1-4
CONCL.: The chorus repeats the request that the Lord would lead us all the way.
"Lead me, lead me, Savior, lead me, lest I stray;
Gently down the stream of time, Lead me, Savior, all the way."
I need to remember that the way is not in myself (Jer. 10.23). I cannot put my trust in worldly wisdom or human philosophy for salvation (1 Cor. 1.21, Col. 2.8). If I want to please God here and have an eternal home with Him, I must daily look to Him and ask, "Savior, Lead Me Lest I Stray."