“Take My Hand and Lead Me”

"Show me Thy ways, O Lord; teach me Thy paths. Lead me in Thy truth, and teach me" (Ps. 25.4-5)

     INTRO.: A song which asks the Lord to show us His ways and lead us in His truth is "Take My Hand And Lead Me" (#455 in Hymns for Worship Revised and #232 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written and the tune was composed both by James Washington Gaines (1880-1937). A native of Texas, he worked with the Trio and/or Quartet Music Companies of Waco and at one time resided in a log cabin home in Palo Pinto County, TX. Eventually he moved to Shelby County near Memphis, TN, where he operated a business under his own name and and was active in evangelistic work for the Methodist Church. This song was first published in 1924. Other songs by Gaines in our books include "In That Home of the Soul" and "You Never Mentioned Him To Me."

     Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, "Take My Hand and Lead Me" appeared in the the 1938 Spiritual Melodies and the 1943 Standard Gospel Songs both edited by Tillit S. Teddlie; the 1938/1944 New Wonderful Songs edited by Thomas S. Cobb; the 1959 Majestic Hymns No. 2 and the 1978 Hymns of Praise both edited by Reuel Lemmons; and the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater. Today it can be found in the 1971 Songs of the Church edited by Alton H. 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.

     This song is often used before prayer as an expression of our desire for the Lord’s help and guidance.

I. Stanza 1 asks for God’s keeping
"I want to live, dear Lord, for Thee; Oh! keep me every day.
A faithful servant let me be Along life’s rugged way."
 A. It should be the desire of every Christian to live for the Lord: Rom. 14.8, Phil. 1.21
 B. In order to live for the Lord, we need Him to keep us: 1 Pet. 1.5, Jude v. 24
 C. Yet, a condition for the Lord to keep us is that we must strive to be faithful servants to Him: Matt. 25.21 (The original read, "A faithful witness let me be," but many of our books have changed this to "servant" since no one today can truly be a "witness" of the Lord)

II. Stanza 2 asks for God’s protection
"When Satan would my hopes alarm, Oh! shelter Thou my soul.
Protect me with Thy mighty arm; Thy strength will keep me whole."
 A. Satan, the devil, is the great enemy who would our hopes alarm: 1 Pet. 5.8
 B. However, God will enable us to resist Him by sheltering our soul and protecting us with His might arm as we draw near to Him: Jas. 4.8
 C. Therefore, we look to the Lord for the strength to keep us whole: Eph. 6.10-11

III. Stanza 3 asks for God’s direction
"Let me each day Thy Spirit feel; Increase my courage, Lord,
To walk by faith, endowed with zeal, Directed by Thy word."
 A. Some object to phrases in songs such as "Let me each day Thy Spirit feel," apparently thinking that they sound too much like Pentecostalism or the Charismatic movement; however, the scriptures do teach that we are to be filled with the Spirit: Eph. 5.18
 B. It is the Holy Spirit who increases our courage and helps us walk by faith: 2 Cor. 5.7
 C. However, the song does not actually say that it is necessarily by means of some direct, even miraculous action of the Spirit; rather it says that we can feel the Spirit (that is, His influence in our lives) only as we are directed by God’s word because the sword of the Spirit, the agency by which He accomplishes His work in us, is the word of God: Eph. 6.18

     CONCL.: The chorus then asks the Lord to lead us by the power of His Spirit upon whose word we feed for spiritual strength:
"Take my hand and lead me, Anywhere you need me;
With Thy Spirit feed me, Till I’m safe at home."
It is true that many people in the religious world look for an immediate, mystical operation of the Holy Spirit to guide them. However, it is not necessarily true that every time the Spirit is mentioned in song the reference has to be understood in that way. I believe that I can sing this song, simply asking that by the power of the Holy Spirit through His revealed, written word, the Lord would "Take My Hand and Lead Me."


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