STLT#199, Precious Lord, Take My Hand

I’ve been to church this mornin’.

Not literally, of course, and yet…

When I was in seminary, I joined the gospel choir – I was tentative at first, not only because I am white but because I am not a Christian. But I was assured that this gospel choir was indeed open to all, and yes, I found it exactly that way: a mix of people, a mix of beliefs, even a mix of talents. Yet our conductor, M. Roger Holland (who now teaches and conducts at the University of Denver), made everyone feel welcome as we both sang and learned a great deal about the wide expanse of the gospel milieu – from the old spirituals (and Moses Hogan’s influence) to the old timey gospel songs, to modern grooves and swings, and everything in between. We learned the history, the compositional complexities, and the vocal techniques.

And, we talked about the theologies. Some of us struggled, especially when the song was grounded in a ‘washed in the blood’ theology. We talked a lot about inclusive language and expansive meanings, and we wrestled a lot with the word “Lord” with its connotations of empire.

Which brings me to today. “Precious Lord, take my hand.” How very unlike us to sing a song of surrender to a “Lord” … and yet, here we are. Maybe we need a little surrender. Maybe we need a prayer to get through the night, to get through the hard times.

Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, let me stand,
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn;
through the storm, through the night, lead me on to the light,
take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.

When my way grows drear, precious Lord, linger near,
when my life is almost gone,
hear my cry, hear my call, hold my hand lest I fall;
take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.


When the darkness appears and the night draws near,
and the day is past and gone,
at the river I stand, guide my feet, hold my hand;
take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.

Is this really any different than Spirit of Life? If we say we’re good with a range of metaphors for the Divine, then Precious Lord should fit in next to Spirit of Life. And if we’re good with asking for that Spirit of Life to come, to change us, to offer comfort and insight, then maybe we can be okay with asking Precious Lord to come, to change us, to offer comfort and insight.

And thus, it’s in that spirit that I sing this song. Lord knows we could use it right now.

Of course, that is only half of why I went to church this morning. The other half was because of my YouTube search for a good rendition to share.

I began with this fairly simple, albeit country-fied version that helps folks new to the song learn it.

And then I clicked on this one:

And then this one:

And this one by Mahalia Jackson, which doesn’t allow embedding but is worth the click.

And amen, halleluiah, I have been to church.

Photo is of the one and only Mahalia Jackson.

Support this site

I am an entrepreneurial minister, which means I am a freelancer, and every part of my income comes from the work I do. The Hymn by Hymn Project was and is a labor of love, but I now am incurring increasing costs for hosting the site.

If everyone who visited gave just $5, those costs would be covered in a single week.

Whether you give once or monthly, your generosity will keep Hymn by Hymn free and available to to the tens of thousands of people who benefit from it.

Please support the project!


Learn more about my ministry at The Art of Meaning

Read my thoughts about congregational life at Hold My Chalice


%d bloggers like this: