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He Leadeth Me Beside Still Waters

Good morning. It is Tuesday, September 28, 2021.

On autumn nights as we sleep peacefully in our beds, millions of songbirds travel under cover of darkness, heading south. Somehow, they know their way. God has given them a state-of-the-art internal guidance system.

We are more valuable than many sparrows. If God guides His creation, will He not also guide His children? The Psalmist thought so, saying: “He leadeth me…He leadeth me…” (Psalm 23:2-3)

Dr. Joseph H. Gilmore, son of a Governor of New Hampshire, gave this account of writing his famous hymn on this theme:

As a young man recently graduated … I was supplying for a couple of Sundays the pulpit of the First Baptist Church in Philadelphia. At the mid-week service, on the 26th of March 1862, I set out to give the people an exposition of the Twenty-third Psalm, which I had given before on three or four occasions, but this time I did not get further than the words “He Leaded Me.” Those words took hold of me as they had never done before, and I saw in them a significance … of which I had never dreamed.

It was the darkest hour of the Civil War. I did not refer to that fact – that is, I don’t think I did, - but it may subconsciously have led me to realize that God’s leadership is the on significant fact in human experience, that it makes no difference how we are led, or whither we are led, so long as are sure God is leading u s.

At the close of the meeting a few of us in the parlor of my host, Deacon Watson, kept on talking about the thought I had emphasized; and then and there, on a blank page of the brief from which I had intended to speak, I penciled the hymn, talking and writing at the same time, then handed it to my wife and thought no more about it. She sent it to The Watchman and Reflector, a paper published in Boston, where it was first printed. I did not know until 1865 that my hymn had been set to music by William B. Bradbury. I went to Rochester to preach…Going into the chapel…I picked up a hymnal to see what they were singing, and opened it at my own hymn, “He Leadeth Me.” – Source “Then Sings My Soul. 150 of the World’s Greatest Hymn Stories by Robert J. Morgan.

  1. He leadeth me, O blessed thought! O words with heav’nly comfort fraught! Whate’er I do, where’er I be Still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me.

o Refrain: He leadeth me, He leadeth me, By His own hand He leadeth me; His faithful foll’wer I would be, For by His hand He leadeth me.

  1. Sometimes ’mid scenes of deepest gloom, Sometimes where Eden’s bowers bloom, By waters still, o’er troubled sea, Still ’tis His hand that leadeth me.

  2. Lord, I would place my hand in Thine, Nor ever murmur nor repine; Content, whatever lot I see, Since ’tis my God that leadeth me.

  3. And when my task on earth is done, When by Thy grace the vict’ry’s won, E’en death’s cold wave I will not flee, Since God through Jordan leadeth me.

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