452. He Leadeth Me

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1 He leadeth me: O blessed thought!
O words with heavenly comfort fraught!
Whate'er I do, where'er I be,
still 'tis God's hand that leadeth me.

He leadeth me, he leadeth me;
by his own hand he leadeth me:
his faithful follower I would be,
for by his hand he leadeth me.

2 Sometimes mid scenes of deepest gloom,
sometimes where Eden's flowers bloom,
by waters calm, o'er troubled sea,
still 'tis God's hand that leadeth me. Refrain

3 Lord, I would clasp thy hand in mine,
nor ever murmur nor repine;
content, whatever lot I see,
since 'tis my God that leadeth me. Refrain

4 And when my task on earth is done,
when, by thy grace, the victory's won,
e'en death's cold wave I will not flee,
since God through Jordan leadeth me. Refrain

Text Information
First Line: He leadeth me: O blessed thought
Title: He Leadeth Me
Author: Joseph H. Gilmore (1862)
Refrain First Line: He leadeth me, he leadeth me
Meter: LM with refrain
Language: English
Publication Date: 1987
Topic: Songs for Children: Hymns; Creation and Providence; Guidance (2 more...)
Tune Information
Composer: William B. Bradbury (1864)
Meter: LM with refrain
Key: D Major

Text Information:

Scripture References:
all st. = Ps. 23

Like the psalm on which it is based, this text confesses absolute trust in the Lord's guidance and care, a trust that is sufficient even for "the valley of the shadow of death" (st. 4). Joseph H. Gilmore (b. Boston, MA, 1834; d. Rochester, NY, 1918) noted the following about his writing of this text:

I was supplying for a couple of Sundays the pulpit of the First Baptist Church in Philadelphia. At the midweek service of March 26, 1862, I set out to give the people an exposition of the 23rd Psalm, but I got no further than the words "He leadeth me." Those words took hold of me as they had never done before. I saw in them a significance and beauty of which I had never dreamed. . . At the close of the meeting a few of us kept on talking about the thoughts which I had emphasized; and then and there, on a back page of my sermon notes, I penciled the hymn just as it stands today, handed it to my wife, and thought no more of it. . . . She sent it without my knowledge to the Watchman and Reflector magazine, and there it first appeared in print December 4, 1862.

While visiting a church in Rochester, New York, in 1865, Gilmore saw his hymn in print for the first time set to William B. Bradbury's tune (see below). The text was also published in Gilmore's He Leadeth Me, and Other Religious Poems (1877).

Educated at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, and Newton Theological Seminary, Newton, Massachusetts, Gilmore was ordained to the Baptist ministry in 1862. He served churches in Fisherville, New Hampshire, and Rochester, New York. In 1868 he was appointed to the English faculty at the University of Rochester, where he served until retirement in 1911. He published various literary works, including Outlines of English and American Literature (1905).

Liturgical Use:
Various occasions of worship; funerals.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

After seeing Gilmore's text in the Boston Watchman and Reflector, William B. Bradbury (PHH 114) composed AUCHTON for those words. Bradbury arranged the text into a stanza/refrain structure, added the final line of the refrain, and published the hymn in his The Golden Censor in 1864. AUCHTON (also known as HE LEADETH ME) means "unknown.”

The tune is a gospel melody in typical verse/refrain pattern; it has a simple harmonization. AUCHTON consists of two main lines formed into an AABB pattern. Sing in harmony. Fermatas, if any are observed, should come at the ends of the lines and not in the middle of line 2, as some soloists prefer.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Audio recording: Piano Harmony (auto-generated)
MIDI file: MIDI Preview
(Faith Alive Christian Resources)
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