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musings from linda 9/29/23


The date was March 26, 1862… In America, the Civil War was raging — and young Pastor Joseph Gilmore, recently graduated, was supplying the pulpit for a few services at the First Baptist Church in Philadelphia. His text was Psalm 23. He wanted the people to turn their eyes away from the horrors of war and to look to Jesus… what to say? As he read the psalm, he was struck by the words “HE LEADETH ME…” and had an “aha” moment! No matter WHAT is happening in the world, he realized that GOD’s LEADERSHIP is the “one significant fact in human experience… it makes no difference how we are led or whither we are led, so long as we are sure GOD is leading us.”


He recalls this memory: “at the close of the meeting, a few of us in the parlor of my host, Deacon Watson, kept talking about the thought I had emphasized; and then and there…I penciled the hymn ‘He Leadeth M ! O Blessed Thought…’ Then I handed it to my wife and thought no more about it.”

Though HE had forgotten it, Mary Gilmore had not!! Without her husband’s knowledge, she had sent the poem to a religious magazine. Later on, it was published and then William Bradbury set it to music. Imagine his surprise when after a few years, he opened a hymnal and discovered his own words staring back at him in song!!


“I shall never forget the impression made upon me by coming into contact then and there with my own assertion of God’s leadership…“


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.

His faithful follower I would be,

For by his hand, he leadeth me”


The language may be antiquated, but the message is still one WE need to hear AND affirm in our own lives — in our crazy 2023 world.


This Sunday, Ann Clemmons and I will be playing a violin/piano duet combining two hymns: HE LEADETH ME and SAVIOR, LIKE A SHEPHERD LEAD US. As we listen reverently, may we all pray for God’s hand to lead each of us individually — AND as a community of faith — into whatever the future holds.


Amen.

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