Precious Lord – Take My Hand


Take My Hand Precious Lord – by Thomas Dorsey (1899-1993)

Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, let me stand
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn
Thru the storm, thru the night, lead me on the light
Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.

When my way grows drear, precious Lord, linger near
When my life almost gone
Hear my cry, hear my call, hold my hand lest I fall
Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.

When the darkness appears and the night draws near
And the day is past and gone
At the river I stand, guide my feet, hold my hand
Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.

Are you broken hearted? Are you undergoing any pain and sorrow? Does your soul feel like it has been cut by a knife?  Well, there is a beautiful story of how God CAN heal the broken-hearted. A certain man went through sudden pain and left us with a wonderful story and a song to sing in such moments.

When Thomas A. Dorsey’s heart was healed, he wrote these words:- “I learned that when we are in our deepest grief, when we feel farthest from God, this is when He is closest, and when we are most open to His restoring power.”  Thomas A. Dorsey, often called the Father of Gospel Music, migrated from Atlanta to Chicago as a young man, thus exemplifying the experience of many southern blacks of his day. In 1932, musician Thomas A. Dorsey experienced a shock.

While singing in a revival meeting, he received a telegram saying his wife had just died in childbirth. A few days later, anguished and depressed, he sat down at a piano. As he toyed with the keys, a song emerged: “Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, let me stand. I am tired, I am weak, I am worn. Through the storm, through the night, lead me on to the light. Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.” Today, Dorsey is considered the father of gospel music and “Precious Lord” is considered one of the greatest gospel songs ever. When you are in the valley of sadness, it is time to SEEK God!

The views from the mountain peaks of our lives are quite different than the sights of living it in the valley! Having said that, the valley gives us an opportunity to look back to the mountain top where our strength originated. Of course, I am speaking of Christ and of the salvation which we have received. It is the best reflection that we can give when we are undergoing troubles. Everyone, including the Christian, experiences times of hardships and sadness. God didn’t promise days without pain, laughter without sorrow, sun without rain, but He did promise strength for the day, comfort for the tears, and light for the way. It is not a matter of whether problems and storms of life will come our way, it is a matter of when they come. The difference is that the dedicated Christian has Christ and the Scriptures to help him/her navigate the journey. What an exciting difference! God made you a promise that you won’t have to face life alone. For when you grow weak in your struggles, His strength will prevail and not your own. For God can reach each falling tears. He sees the heart that needs a cheer. He knows the path that’s hard and dear. Don’t ever give up coz He is near.

Here in the words of Thomas A. Dorsey, the testimony of how this song was written.

“Back in 1932, I was 32 years old and a fairly new husband. My wife, Nettie and I were living in a little apartment on Chicago’s Southside. One hot August afternoon I had to go to St. Louis, where I was to be the featured soloist at a large revival meeting. I didn’t want to go. Nettie was in the last month of pregnancy with our first child. But a lot of people were expecting me in St. Louis. I kissed Nettie good-bye, clattered downstairs to our Model A and, in a fresh Lake Michigan breeze, chugged out of Chicago on Route 66. However, outside the city, I discovered that in my anxiety at leaving, had forgotten my music case. I wheeled around and headed back. I found Nettie sleeping peacefully. I hesitated by her bed; something was strongly telling me to stay. But eager to get on my way, and not wanting to disturb Nettie, I shrugged off the feeling and quietly slipped out of the room with my music. The next night, in the steaming St. Louis heat, the crowd called on me to sing again and again. When I finally sat down, a messenger boy ran up with a Western Union telegram. I ripped open the envelope. Pasted on the yellow sheet were the words: YOUR WIFE JUST DIED. People were happily singing and clapping around me, but I could hardly keep from crying out. I rushed to a phone and called home. All I could hear on the other end was “Nettie is dead. Nettie is dead.” When I got back, I learned that Nettie had given birth to a boy. I swung between grief and joy. Yet that night, the baby died. I buried Nettie and our little boy together, in the same casket.

Then I fell apart. For days I closeted myself. I felt that God had done me an injustice. I didn’t want to serve Him anymore or write gospel songs. I just wanted to go back to that jazz world I once knew so well. But then, as I hunched alone in that dark apartment those first sad days, I thought back to the afternoon I went to St. Louis. Something kept telling me to stay with Nettie. Was that something God? Oh, if I had paid more attention to Him that day, I would have stayed and been with Nettie when she died.

From that moment on I vowed to listen more closely to Him. But still I was lost in grief. Everyone was kind to me, especially a friend, Professor Frye, who seemed to know what I needed. On the following Saturday evening he took me up to Madam Malone’s Poro College, a neighbourhood music school. It was quiet; the late evening sun crept through the curtained windows. I sat down at the piano, and my hands began to browse over the keys. Something happened to me then I felt at peace. I feel as though I could reach out and touch God. I found myself playing a melody, one I’d never heard or played before, and the words into my head-they just seemed to fall into place:

“Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, let me stand! I am tired, I am weak, I am worn, Through the storm, Through the night lead me on to the light, Take my hand, precious Lord, Lead me home.” The Lord gave me these words and melody. He also healed my spirit. I learned that when we are in our deepest grief, when we feel farthest from God, this is when He is closest, and when we are most open to His restoring power. And so I go on living for God willingly and joyfully, until that day comes when He will take me and gently lead me home.

What a beautiful story of how God CAN heal the broken-hearted. This story is completely true. These sad events served to inspire gospel great, Thomas A. Dorsey, to pen “Precious Lord” in 1932. The song has since been translated into 32 languages and was the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s favorite… the one Mahalia Jackson sang at his funeral. However, this story has circulated the web for years falsely giving credit to Big Bandleader, Tommy Dorsey. Take a moment to watch this short history of Thomas A. Dorsey.

A disclaimer about the person who wrote the song: It is the story of a jazz musician named Tommy who went through a personal tragedy that led to his writing the song “Precious Lord Take My Hand.” He was Tommy Dorsey, the great trombonist and band leader. The one who wrote Peace in the Valley. There have been many printed references to this story and connected it to the great American band leader, Tommy Dorsey. But the classic gospel song “Precious Lord Take My Hand” was actually written by a different man with the same name. The trombonist and band leader named Tommy Dorsey was born in 1905 and died in 1956. Tommy Dorsey the composer of “Precious Lord Take My Hand” was a jazz pianist and composer was born in 1899 and died in 1993. He is regarded by many as the father of gospel music. After a successful career as a blues musician, he switched to gospel music. For more than 40 years, he was the choir director Chicago’s Pilgrim Baptist Church.

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