2013-04-12 / Other News

Stories Behind The Hymns

He Leadeth Me

By Warren Shiver By Warren Shiver He Leadeth Me Author: Joseph Henry Gilmore (1834-1918) Composer: William Batchelder Bradbury (1816-1868)

Rev. Joseph Henry Gilmore was born in Boston, Massachusetts on April 29,1834. He graduated from Phillips-Andover Academy in 1854. In 1858 he received a Bachelor of Arts degree and in 1861 a Master of Arts degree from Brown University. He attended Newton Theological Institution in 1861. After being ordained in the Baptist ministry in 1862, he became Pastor of a church in Fisherville, New Hampshire. This is the story of the hymn “He Leadeth Me,” as told by Rev. Gilmore.

It was a rainy evening in March 1862 in the city of Philadelphia. Gas street lamps flickered in the dimly lit wet streets as Rev. Joseph Henry Gilmore was briskly walking along in the rain. His mind was deep in thought about the sermon he would preach that night. He planned to use the twenty-third Psalm for his text. He had preached from this scripture three or four times before, but as he was quoting the scripture to himself, he got no further than “He Leadeth Me”. As he strode along, suddenly the “Blessed Thought” of the phrase and the beauty and comfort of its message appeared like a helping hand in the darkness. Arriving at the First Baptist Church where he was preaching a revival for two weeks, he entered the church to lead the service and his heart was still on fire from the revelation he received from the scripture. He had seen in his mind the beautiful, immortal, and inspired words of the shepherd’s psalm. He began to think, how can I put this message into modern words so that the average layman can understand it. Thinking of the dark world he was living in, he knew it had need of new hope, new vigor, and vitality. Where better could these be found than in the underlying inspiration and comfort of this psalm? He sought for new words to express his thoughts.” He leadeth me O blessed thought! O words with heavenly comfort fraught! What’er I do, where’er

I be, Still tis God’s hand that leadeth me!”

When the two-week revival ended, Rev. Gilmore went next door to the church where Deacon Thomas S.

Wattson lived. Still inspired from the blessings of the revival results and the leadership of the Holy Spirit, he wrote the second verse of “He Leadeth Me”. The words came to him as fast as he could write them down. When he finished writing the poem, he gave the paper to his wife to put away and gave no further thought to it. Several months later, Rev. Gilmores wife, without the knowledge of her husband sent the poem to the “Watchman and Reflector” a religious paper published in Boston, where the poem was first printed.

Two years later, William Bradbury, a great composer of music for hymns seeing the poem in the paper, set it to the beautiful music, as we know it today. “He Leadeth Me” with the Bradbury tune first appeared in a Sunday school songbook entitled the “Golden Censor” compiled by Mr. Bradbury in 1864.

Rev. Gilmore moved to Rochester, New York in 1865 to pastor the Second Baptist Church and stayed there until 1867. It was in this church that Rev. Gilmore picked up a hymnal and while thumbing through it, discovered his own hymn, “He Leadeth Me”. This was the first time he knew his hymn had found a place among the songs of the church. This song blessed him throughout his life and has blessed Christians of all faiths as well.

Stories Behind The Hymns is written by Warren Shiver of Biscoe, NC. Shiver has been fascinated with the true stories behind the hymns since he was a 12-year old attending East Gaffney Baptist Church in Gaffney, S.C. He began studying the stories behind the hymns in 1957. If you have questions or comments, he can be reached by email at wshiver99@embarqmail.com or by mail at PO BOX 775,Biscoe, NC 27209.

Warren has written two books, the first is a 300-page soft back, 104 Of My Favorite Hymn Stories Vol. 1 costs $14.95, the second book, 340-page soft back, 104 Of My Favorite Hymn Stories Vol. 2 costs $16.95. You may buy both books for $25.00. You may pick up your copies of both books at The Gaffney Ledger office on Floyd Baker Boulevard. Warren may be reached by email at wshiver99@embarqmail.com, or by mail at PO Box 775, Biscoe, NC.27209, you may also purchase the books on his website www.myfavoritehymnstories.com. Shipping for both books is $4.00, for one book $3.00. If you would like for Warren to come speak at your church, Sunday school class or any meeting you may contract him at 910-428-9911 or 910-428-4078.

He Leadeth Me
Verse 1
He leadeth me O blessed thought!
O words with heavenly comfort fraught!
What’er I do, where’er I be
Still tis God’s hand that leadeth me!
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.
Verse 2:
Sometimes ‘mid scenes of deepest
Sometimes where Eden’s bowers bloom,
By waters still, o’er troubled sea,
Still ‘tis His hand that leadeth me!
Verse 3:
Lord, I would clasp Thy hand in mine,
Nor ever murmur nor repine,
Content whatever lot I see,
Since tis my God that leadeth me!
Verse 4:
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 thro’ Jordan leadeth me!
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