"HAND IN HAND WITH JESUS"
"I the Lord have called thee…and will hold thine hand and will keep thee…" (Isa. 42:6)
INTRO.: A song which reminds us that the Lord has called us, will hold our hands, and will keep us if we walk with Him is "Hand in Hand with Jesus" (#260 in Hymns for Worship Revised, and #149 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by Johnson Oatman, Jr. (1856-1922). A prolific hymn text author of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, Oatman produced such favorites as "Count Your Blessings," "Higher Ground," "I’ll Be a Friend to Jesus," "Lift Him Up," "No, Not One," "Sweeter Than All," "The Last Mile of the Way," and "What Shall It Profit a Man?" The tune for "Hand in Hand with Jesus" was composed by Leonard D. Huffstutler, who was born on June 17, 1887, at Liberty, Alabama, and raised on a farm in Texas. As a boy he learned to sing gospel songs from his mother.
After attending Texas A & M College, Huffstutler studied music with such men as R. H. Cornelius, Homer Rodeheaver, A. B. Sebren, and J. B. Herbert. For the next sixty years, he followed his lifelong career of singing in gospel quartets and teaching in singing schools for the Hartford and Stamps Baxter Music Companies. Most books say that "Hand in Hand with Jesus" was copyrighted by Stamps-Baxter in their 1940 book Golden Key, and renewed by them in 1968 (some newer books are even saying copyright 1981 by Stamps Baxter, and one recent book says copyright 1923, renewal 1981 by Stamps Baxter), but since Oatman had died in 1922 it is to be assumed that the text must date from before that time. One source gives the original date of the song as 1923, but even that was after Oatman’s death, although Oatman could have sent the words to Huffstutler before he died but Huffstutler did not finish and publish the song until a year later.
Huffstutler composed other songs like "Deep Down in My Soul," "Let Us Now Praise Him," which are considered standards of Southern white gospel music, along with "A Little Closer" for the Stamps Quartet Music Company and "Beyond the Tide" for the Rex Nelson Music Company, prior to his death in 1977. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, "Hand in Hand with Jesus" appeared in the 1978 Hymns of Praise edited by Reuel Lemmons. 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 the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; in addition to Hymns for Worship and Sacred Selections.
The song identifies some of the blessings that one has by walking with Jesus.
I. Stanza 1 tells us that we have redemption from sin
"Once from my poor sin-sick soul Christ did every burden roll;
Now I walk redeemed and whole, Hand in hand with Jesus."
A. At one time or another, every responsible human being was a sin-sick soul: Rom. 3:23
B. However, Christ came to die for us and take our burden of sin away: Isa. 53:4-5
C. Therefore, through His blood we can have redemption or forgiveness of sins: Eph. 1:7
II. Stanza 2 tells us that we have the privilege of prayer
"In my night of dark despair, Jesus heard and answered prayer;
Now I’m walking free as air, Hand in hand with Jesus."
A. Even God’s people have times of dark despair, due to the various trials of life: Jas. 1:2-3
B. However, the Lord has promised that through our Mediator, Jesus Christ, He will hear and answer our prayers: 1 Jn. 5:14-15
C. The result of making our requests known in prayer, we can then walk free as air with the peace of God to keep our hearts: Phil. 4:6-7
III. Stanza 3 tells us that we have His guidance and protection
"From the strait and narrow way, Praise the Lord, I cannot stray,
For I’m walking every day Hand in hand with Jesus."
A. God wants us to walk in the strait and narrow way that leads to everlasting life: Matt. 7:13-14
B. All of our books change the second line to read, "I must not stray;" however, the original wording of the song does not necessarily teach the denominational doctrine of the impossibility of apostasy. It does not read, "I cannot stray" period, but "I cannot stray, For I’m walking…." Thus, it may be understood simply to be saying that if we hear His voice and follow Him, we shall never perish and no one can snatch us out of His hand: Jn. 10:27-28
C. Indeed, if we walk in the light, we have fellowship with Him: 1 Jn. 1:7
IV. Stanza 4 tells us that we have the hope of heaven
"When the stars are backward rolled, And His home I shall behold,
I will walk those streets of gold, Hand in hand with Jesus."
A. Someday the stars will be backward rolled as the heavens themselves will be changed like a garment: Heb. 1:10-12
B. Then, the righteous will behold the home that has been prepared for them from the foundation of the world: Matt. 25:34
C. And they will have the privilege of walking the street of gold with the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb: Rev. 21:21-22
CONCL.: The chorus encourages us to continue walking each day with the Lord.
"Hand in hand we walk each day, Hand in hand along the way;
Walking thus I will not stray, Hand in hand with Jesus."
"…Enoch walked with God, and He was not, for God took Him" (Gen. 5:24). We understand the figurative nature of such statements in scripture. We cannot literally put our hand in the hand of Jesus as a child might put his hand in that of his parent to walk across the street. But we can have the same kind of protective relationship with our Savior by making sure that we follow His teaching and live according to His will. This, then, is what it really means to walk "Hand in Hand with Jesus."