"LORD, DISMISS US IN THY CARE"
"…Leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation" (Ps. 27:9)
INTRO.: A song which asks God not to leave us when we depart from a worship assembly is "Lord, Dismiss Us in Thy Care." The text was written and the tune (Finley) was composed both by Gene Cleveland Finley (b. 1929). The melody was harmonized by George Edward Baggett, who was born on May 17, 1928, in Memphis, TN, to Mr. and Mrs. E. B. Baggett. After graduating from Central High School in Jackson, MS, in 1946, George received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Education from Harding College (now University) in Searcy, AR; Master of Arts degree from the University of Missouri in Kansas City, MO; and Doctor of Music Education from the University of Oklahoma. His marriage on Sept. 6, 1949, to Jeannette Norris produced a daughter and a son. For many years, Baggett taught at Harding as an associate professor of music, directing the band, chorale, and Academy chorus. Also he served, first as a deacon then as an elder, at the Westside Church of Christ in Searcy, where he taught Bible classes as well. In addition, he has been active in various community and professional organizations.
Baggett has provided the harmony for several songs which have been published, including another one with Finley entitled "Oh, What Love!", beginning, "Once we wandered deep in sin, With no peace or joy within." Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, "Lord, Dismiss Us in Thy Care" was first published in the 1971 Songs of the Church edited by Alton H. Howard (although Praise for the Lord gives it the date of 1972; in fact, several songs found in the original edition of Songs of the Church, which was listed as copyright 1971, are given copyright dates of 1972). It may also be found in the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; and the 1999 Into Our Hands edited by Leland R. Fleming; in addition to the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat. It is not to be confused with a song of the same name by Jefferson David Tant in Hymns for Worship.
The song was obviously intended for use as a dismissal or closing hymn for a worship serivce.
I Stanza 1 asks the Lord to be with us as we go
"Lord, dismiss us in Thy care; Never leave us is our prayer.
As we go into the night, Shield us with Thine arms of might."
A. When we are dismissed from the assembly, we are absent one from another: Gen. 31:49
B. Especially from an evening service, we go into the night, a time when danger is heightened and people tend to be more afraid: Ps. 6:6 (although even during the physical day, we depart into a world filled with the night of sin)
C. However, as we go into the world, we can ask God to be our shield: Ps. 3:3
II. Stanza 2 asks the Lord to be with us as we are separated from one another
"Though we go our separate ways, We’re together in Thy praise;
Knit in love and faith unfeigned, Keep us thus in Jesus’ name."
A. Even though we may be separated from one another, we are still to be together or one in the Lord: Jn. 17:20-21
B. The Lord wants us to be knit together in love and faith: Col. 2:2
C. Therefore, we should ask God to help us keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace: Eph. 4:3
III. Stanza 3 asks the Lord to be with us as we are tempted
"When the tempter comes around, Serving Thee may we be found;
Father, wilt Thou be nearby? He won’t harm if Thou art night."
A. As long as we have life and breath, the tempter will come around, seeking whom he may devour: 1 Pet. 5:8
B. Instead of serving Satan, Christians always need to be found serving the Lord: Rom. 12:11
C. Thus, we must ask God to draw near to us as we draw near to Him that we might resist the devil: Jas. 4:7-8
IV. Stanza 4 asks the Lord to be with us as we prepare to gather again
Till we gather back again, Father, keep us free from sin;
Pure and holy would we be, As the One who set us free."
A. The aim of all children of God should be not to forsake the assembling of themselves together: Heb. 10:24-25
B. As we make our plans to gather back again, we should strive to keep ourselves unspotted from the world: Jas. 1:27
C. Hence, we would want to ask God to help us be holy even as He is holy: 1 Pet. 1:15-16
CONCL.: I suppose that just about any good spiritual song could be sung as a "closing hymn." Of course, certain hymns either were intended for use at the dismissal of a worship service or are commonly thought of as especially appropriate for such times, as "God Be With You Till We Meet Again" and "Blest Be the Tie That Binds." However, it is good to have newer, additional songs that are helpful for this purpose, that will turn our thoughts toward the Lord for our guidance and protection and cause us to say, "Lord, Dismiss Us in Thy Care."