"ARE YOU WALKING IN HIS FOOTSTEPS?"
"…Leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps" (1 Pet. 2.21)
INTRO.: A song which identifies Jesus as an example in whose steps we should follow is "Are You Walking In His Footsteps" (#183 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by Martin Lowrie Hofford, who was born on Jan. 27, 1825, at Doylestown, PA. After attending Lafayette and Princeton, where he graduated in 1849, he studied theology at Princeton Seminary for one year and became principal of the Camden Collegiate Institute. While there, he organized a Presbyterian Church at Beverly, NJ, under the oversight of the Presbytery of Philadelphia in 1852. In 1855 he moved to work as an evangelist in Burlington, NJ, and in 1860 began teaching at Trenton Institute. In 1863, he took charge of a military institute at Allentown, PA, that was later incorporated as Muhlenberg College, where he served as a professor and later president. After returning to Doylestown, PA, as minister from 1868 to 1878, he moved to Morrisville, PA, where he served as minister until his death on Jan. 9, 1888, at Trenton, NJ.
The tune was composed by James Henry Fillmore (1848-1936). The song was published in 1886 by Fillmore Brothers Music House of Cincinnati, OH. Hofford is also known for a hymn, "Abide With Me, ‘Tis Eventide," with music by Harrison Millard, which has appeared in some of our books. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ during the twentieth century, "Are You Walking In His Footsteps" appeared in the 1959 Majestic Hymnal No. 2 and the 1978 Hymns of Praise both edited by Reuel Lemmons and published by the Firm Foundation Publishing House; and the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch. Today it may be found only in Sacred Selections to my knowledge.
The song encourages us to walk in the footsteps of Jesus who left us a perfect example.
I. Stanza 1 says that we must follow His footsteps by doing good
"Are you walking in His footsteps, Are you always doing good,
Do you follow after Jesus as sincerely as you should?
Do you travel in the pathway That will shine with brighter light,
Till you reach the mansions yonder In the land of pure delight?"
A. While He was on earth, Jesus went about doing good: Acts 10.38
B. When we do that which is good, as Jesus did, we travel in the narrow pathway that shines with His light: Matt. 7.13-14
C. By traveling the pathway of doing what is good, we can reach the mansions yonder in the land of pure delight: Jn. 14.1-3
II. Stanza 2 says that we must follow His footsteps by seeking the lost
"Are you walking in His footsteps, Do you ever seek the lost
In the mountains and the desert Whatsoe’er may be the cost?
In the highways and the byways Are your footsteps ever found,
Where His wounded feet and bleeding Left their marks upon the ground?"
A. Jesus Himself said that He came to seek and save that which was lost: Lk. 19.10
B. Therefore, we should follow His footsteps in the highways and the byways to compel people to come in: Lk. 14.23
C. In doing this, we are following the Shepherd who went out to seek the lost sheep: Lk. 15.1-7
III. Stanza 3 says that we must follow His footsteps daily
"Are you walking in His footsteps as He bids you daily do,
Do you follow near the Savior With Him constantly in view?
In the sunshine and the shadow, In the darkness and the light,
Are you pressing in your journey To the land of pure delight?"
A. Jesus says that we are to take up our cross daily to follow Him: Lk. 9.23
B. In order to do this, we must keep Him constantly in view, looking unto Him as the author and finisher of our faith: Heb. 12.1-2
C. This will enable us to keep pressing on toward the mark of the prize of the high calling of God: Phil. 3.14
CONCL.: The chorus repeats the first four lines of the opening stanza to remind us of the importance of following in the footsteps of Jesus.
"Are you walking in His footsteps, Are you always doing good?
Do you follow after Jesus As sincerely as you should?"
One result of our singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs is that we can use them to teach and admonish one another. As those who are striving to be followers of Jesus Christ, we should constantly be examining ourselves and also from time to time asking each other, "Are You Walking In His Footsteps?"