~* HE LEADETH ME *~
Joseph H. Gilmore, 1834-1918

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
Psalm 23:2

The blessedness and awe of being led by Almighty God Himself so impressed the author of this text that he wrote these beloved words spontaneously--and those exact words have been sung by believers around the world for more than a century. Although Joseph Gilmore became a distinguished university and seminary professor, an author of several textbooks in Hebrew and English literature, and a respected Baptist minister, he is best remembered today for this one hymn, hurriedly written when he was just 28 years old.

Gilmore left this account:
As a young man who recently had been graduated from Brown University and Newton Theological Institution, 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 Leadeth Me.” Those words took hold of me as they had never done before, and I saw them in a significance and wondrous beauty 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 one significant fact in human experience, that it makes no difference how we are led, or whither we are led, so long as we are sure God is leading us.

At the close of the service, we adjourned to Deacon Watson's pleasant home, where we were being entertained. During our conversation the blessedness of God's leading so grew upon me that I took out my pencil, wrote the text just as it stands today, handed it to my wife, and thought no more of it.

Without telling her husband, Mrs. Gilmore sent the verses to the Watchman and Reflector Magazine, where it first appeared the following year. Three years later Joseph Gilmore went to Rochestor, New York, as a candidate to become pastor of Second Baptist Church. He recalls:
Upon entering the chapel I took up my hymnal, thinking--I wonder what they sing here. To my amazement the book opened up at "He Leadeth Me," and that was the first time I knew that my hurriedly written lines had found a place among the songs of the church.

William Bradbury, an important American contributor to early gospel hymnody, added two additional lines to the chorus: "His faithful foll'wer I would be, for by His hand He leadeth me." Does that describe you?



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

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

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.

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.

CHORUS:
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.



*For Today*: Psalm 23, 139:10 & 24; Isaiah 41:13 & 14; John 16:13

Visualize a loving shepherd tenderly leading his sheep. Then be especially responsive to God's guidance.

Music url: The Cyber Hymnal

Taken from Amazing Grace -- 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions © Copyright 1990 by Kenneth W. Osbeck. Published by Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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