God Leads Us Along

By George A Young

God Leads Us Along

In shady, green pastures, so rich and so sweet,
God leads His dear children along;
Where the water’s cool flow bathes the weary one’s feet,
God leads His dear children along.

Some through the waters, some through the flood,
Some through the fire, but all through the blood;
Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song,
In the night season and all the day long.

Sometimes on the mount where the sun shines so bright,
God leads His dear children along;
Sometimes in the valley, in darkest of night,
God leads His dear children along.

Though sorrows befall us and evils oppose,
God leads His dear children along;
Through grace we can conquer, defeat all our foes,
God leads His dear children along.
Away from the mire, and away from the clay,
God leads His dear children along;
Away up in glory, eternity’s day,
God leads His dear children along.

Sometimes life seems hard to bear, full of sorrow, trouble and woe. But it is then that I have to remember that it’s in the valleys I grow. If I always stayed on the mountain top and never experienced pain, I would never appreciate God’s love and would be living in vain.

I have so much to learn and my growth is very slow, sometimes I need the mountain tops, but it’s in the valleys I grow. I do not always understand why things happen as they do, but I am very sure of one thing. My Lord will see me through.

The more clearly we see the sovereignty of God and depend on His providential care, the less perplexed we will be by Life’s calamities. God does not lead us year by year; nor does He lead us day by day; but He leads us step by step. Moment by moment He unfolds our paths and the Lord Himself directs our way.

The author of this hymn God Lead Us Along was a little known preacher whom we only know as preacher and carpenter whose fame only came after he was already dead. He spent a lifetime humbly serving the Lord with his wife in small rural churches of the USA. He was so poor that life for him and his family was a difficult one. His name was George A Young.

The story of the life of George A Young was brought to light by a man called Haldor Lillenas, founder of a great music publishing company, who was born on the small island of Bergen, Norway on Nov 19, 1885. The life and testimony of this man led to some historical research about this hymn God Lead Us Along. God leads His dear children along.

It is said that around 1942, Haldor Lillenas (The Bible Stands; Wonderful Grace of Jesus) decided to track down George Young’s widow, and find out more about this song. He got an address in a small town and, driving there, he stopped at a gas station to ask for directions. When the attendant saw the address, he said, “Why sir, that’s the County Poor House up the road about three miles. And mister, when I say poor house, I really mean poor house!”

Not knowing what to expect, Lillenas made his way there. He found Mrs. Young, a tiny, elderly woman, in surroundings that were far from congenial. However, she radiated the joy of the Lord, and spoke of how He’d guided her and her husband over many years. Then, she exclaimed, “Dr. Lillenas, God led me here!” I’m so glad He did, for you know, about every month someone comes into this place to spend the rest of their days….So many of them don’t know my Jesus. I’m having the time of my life introducing them to Jesus! Dr. Lillenas, isn’t it wonderful how God leads!”

About Haldor Lillens and meeting with Mrs Young
At the age of two Haldor Lillenas immigrated with his mother and two brothers to America from Norway. They settled in Colton, South Dakota. As with any immigrant of those days, his first years in the USA were hard. He could not speak the English language, and he had no friends. He started a new life in a strange land hoping to make a success of his new beginning. He later met a fine old lady who befriended him, and taught him the English language. Perhaps more importantly, she told him the story of Christ, and led him to know the Lord as his saviour at the age of twenty-one. Many times she sang him a comforting song entitled, “God Leads His Dear Children Along”.

For many years his mind would go back to this sweet old lady and the song she sang to him in his time of loneliness and need, and how it changed his life and gave him hope. He decided to find out something about its writer, Mr. George A.Young. He discovered that Mr. Young had actually passed away, but his widow was still living in a nearby town.

Mr. Lillenas drove out to the little town, and found Young’s widow living in a little run-down house. She sat down and told him the story of how her husband had written the song. His excitement mounted as she told this story:

The Story of Mrs G.A Young in her own words:
“My husband and I were married while we were very young. God gave us a wonderful life together. He led us from day to day. We prayed together, we worshiped together, and God moved through the Holy Spirit, and put a song in my husband’s heart that has helped people all over the world to deal with tragedy in their lives.

The text was probably taken from Isaiah 43:2. “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee, and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee, when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee”. Psalm 24:4 tells us that David had experienced these tidal waves of grief, and had God not been on his side, the waters would have overwhelmed his soul.

George Young was an obscure 19th Century preacher and carpenter who spent a lifetime humbly serving the Lord in small rural communities. Often his financial support was small, and it was hard on his family. But through all the ups and downs his faithful wife never wavered in her loyalty to God and to her husband. After a long struggle, the family was able to move into their own small home (which George built himself). But then, on an occasion when George was away preaching, some local thugs-who didn’t like his Gospel preaching- -set fire to the house, and it was totally destroyed. It was out of that experience that Young reaffirmed his faith in God by writing God Leads His Dear Children Along.

His wife then related to Mr. Lillenas how God took her husband home to be with Him, but she was not bitter. She said, ” God has led me here to this small town, and I am so glad about it. God has used me in this place. Isn’t it wonderful that God leads His children day-by-day, and step-by-step? Many people come to this country, and they are so sad and in such great need. They need help and comfort. I have been able to cheer many of them, and lead scores to the Lord Jesus Christ. How thankful I am that God brought me to this place to minister to so many in need.”

Mr. Haldor Lillenas was deeply moved by Mrs. Young’s words, and excited that he had found more than just a story behind a hymn, but had found a Christian woman completely surrendered to God’s will in her life.

While we don’t know much about Mr. George A.Young, we are sure that he left us one of the most beautiful hymns ever written.

Couple of comments about this hymn:
I find the commentary by Robert Cottrill on his Wordwise hymns most appropriate as a commentary for the lyrics. This is what Robert writes:

In 1903, George Young published a hymn for which he wrote both words and music. It is a testimony to his faith in God, in spite of this severe trial. It depicts different kinds of circumstances and experiences we face in life, with a reminder that the Lord provides for us in them all. The opening stanza paints a lovely picture, reminiscent of the 23rd Psalm. But the author was well aware that not all of life is like that. The song’s refrain gives a more sobering view of life’s trials:
CH-1) In shady, green pastures, so rich and so sweet,
God leads His dear children along;
Where the water’s cool flow bathes the weary one’s feet,
God leads His dear children along.

Some through the waters, some through the flood,
Some through the fire, but all through the blood;
Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song,
In the night season and all the day long.

“Some through great sorrow.” It’s believed this is a reference to Young’s own experience. He had learned, through painful loss that “God…gives songs in the night” to those who trust in Him (Job 35:10). And through it all, whether in good times or bad, the Lord continues to “lead His dear children along.”

Perhaps there are those who think that if God is our Guide, our lives should never be touched by hurt or harm. But that’s not the case. When God brought the Israelites out of Egypt, he led his people with a supernatural pillar of cloud and fire (Deut. 1:33). But He led them through a wilderness. There they experienced a lack of water, and a shortage of food, in addition to enemy attacks. God did not deliver them from such experiences. But He proved Himself strong, time and again, to meet their need.

Today, Christians are subject to all the ills common to man, and they have, as the hymn writer’s experience reminds us, the added burden of living in a world at enmity with God. Jesus warned, long ago, “If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you” (Jn. 15:20). George Young certainly knew about that!

Though there are some remarkable instances of God’s deliverance from pain or peril, they are not the common thing. We are not promised a final and full release from trials until we go to be with Him in glory. It is then that sickness, pain, and death will be forever put behind us (Rev. 21:4). More often now, rather than delivering us from these things, the Lord helps us in them, and carries us through them.

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