“I Will Follow Jesus”

"I WILL FOLLOW JESUS"
"…He that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness…" (Jn. 8.12)

     INTRO.: A song which encourages us to follow Jesus so that we might not walk in darkness is "I Will Follow Jesus" (#186 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by William Orcutt Cushing (1823-1902). The author of several gospel songs, such as "Under His Wings," "Hiding In Thee," and "When He Cometh," Cushing told Ira D. Sankey, "I wrote this hymn in 1878. Longing to give up all for Christ who had given His life for me, I wanted to be willing to lay everything at His feet with no wish but to do His will, to live henceforth only for His glory. Out of this feeling came the hymn ‘Follow on.’ It was written with the prayer and the hope that some heart might by it be led to give up all for Christ. Much of the power and usefulness of the hymn, however, are due to Mr. Lowry, who put it into song." The original tune seems to have been composed by Robert Lowry (1826-1899). It was published in his Good as Gold in 1880. However, an alternate tune, very similar to Lowry’s yet distinctly different in places, was composed by Ralph Erskine Hudson (1843-1901).

     Among hymnbooks published during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the text with Lowry’s tune appeared in the 1921 Great Songs of the Church (No. 1) 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; and the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch. With the Hudson tune, it appeared in the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 edited by E. L. Jorgenson; and the 1959 Majestic Hymnal No. 2 and Hymns of Praise, both edited by Reuel Lemmons; in addition to Sacred Selections. For some reason, it has not appeared in very many of our newer books. As a matter of personal choice, I happen to prefer the Hudson tune.

     The song exhorts us to follow Jesus wherever the pathway may lead us.

I. Stanza 1 suggests that we must follow Him when times are good
"Down in the valley with my Savior I would go,
Where the flowers are blooming and the sweet waters flow;
Everywhere He leads me I would follow, follow on,
Walking in His footsteps till the crown be won."
 A. "Where the flowers are blooming and the sweet waters flow" symbolizes times of peace and plenty: 1 Tim. 2.2
 B. When things are well, we still need to remember and follow Jesus: Lk. 9.47
 C. Only by following Jesus can He guide us to where the crown will be won: Rev. 2.10

II. Stanza 2 suggests that we must follow Him when times are bad
"Down in the valley with my Savior I would go,
Where the storms are sweeping and the dark waters flow;
With His hand to lead me I will never, never fear;
Danger cannot fright me if my Lord is near."
 A. "Where the storms are sweeping and the dark waters flow" symbolizes times of trial and tribulation: Job 14.1
 B. Yet, when things are not well, we must look to Jesus that we might not fear: 2 Tim. 1.7, 1 Jn. 4.18
 C. If we draw near to the Lord, nothing can truly harm us: Jas. 4.8, 1 Pet. 3.13

III. Stanza 3 suggests that we must follow Him at all times
"Down in the valley or upon the mountain steep,
Close beside my Savior would my soul ever keep;
He will lead me safely in the path that He has trod,
Up to where they gather on the hills of God."
 A. So, whether in the valley of peace and prosperity or upon the mountain steep where there are trials and tribulations, we should strive to keep our souls close beside the Savior: Jude v. 21
 B. We can look to Him to lead us safely in the path that He has trod: 1 Pet. 2.21
 C. By following Him, we can finally reach that place where they gather on the hills of God: Rev. 14.1-5

      CONCL.: The chorus continues to emphasize the importance of following Jesus at all times.
"Follow, follow, I would follow Jesus!
Anywhere, everywhere, I would follow on;
Follow, follow, I would follow Jesus!
Everywhere He leads me I would follow on."
I have always liked the placement of this song in Sacred Selections.  After a song which asks the question, "Who Will Follow Jesus?", the answer, reflecting the commitment of every true child of God, comes back, "I Will Follow Jesus."

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2 thoughts on ““I Will Follow Jesus”

  1. I was trying to remember the words of this song. Thank you for publishing them. I remembered the chorus from long ago, but not all of the stanzas. Thank you so much.

    Reply
  2. October 24th 2010

    I was reminded of the words of this hymn, which we used to sing at a Mission Hall when I was a child, as I drove down into the valley to my Church this morning. I found myself singing the words and was later, after the morning service, able to share the words of this hymn with a dear friend who is going through an anxious time.

    Reply

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