Last week I was watching a documentary which debuted in 1982. Its title is Say Amen, Somebody. Through interviews and performances, the film chronicles some of the early composers and musicians of African American gospel music. One of the people featured was Thomas A. Dorsey. In one scene, he told the story of how he wrote Precious Lord, Take My Hand. In 1932, Dorsey went to St. Louis to sing in a revival, a month before his wife Nettie was to have their first child. He didn’t want to leave her, but she encouraged him to go anyway.
As he sat down to perform, a young boy from Western Union handed him a telegram informing him that Nettie had died. He returned home to their baby boy, experiencing both grief and joy. Within two days, his newborn son died too. Over the next several days, Dorsey grieved. And that grief created the song Precious Lord, which was his own prayer to God for the inconsolable grief that he experienced in those first few days. The entire story around the composition of this song can be found HERE.
Over the years, this song has become a prayer for me when I have grieved over the loss of family members, friends and saints whose lives I have celebrated. I know that the Lord is holding my hand each time I walk through the valley of loss. Like the 23rd Psalm, this hymn takes us from the depths of despair to a place of hope and assurance.
We are living in anxious times. I don’t feel I need to list the topics that may be causing us to lose sleep, to worry or to be fearful about what could happen or even what will happen. I pray that you know that our Lord is always with us, sharing our joys and our griefs. May we turn to the Lord, asking Him to take our hands and lead us from our grief into a time and place of hope and promise. And Amen.