“Precious Lord, take my hand,
Bring Thy child home at last,
Where the strife and the pain
All are past:
I have dreamed a great dream
That Thy love shall rule our land:
Precious Lord, precious Lord, take my hand.”
We can see how these words serve as a memorial to King, but they also should speak to every one of us. In the words of our Collect prayer this week, we pray that, “we may continually be given to good works,” and our rendition of Precious Lord, Take My Hand highlights some of the best work of all – loving those around us.
The famous tune of JESU, MEINE FREUDE that normally appears in C minor today was composed by Johann Crüger (1598-1662), who also wrote many tunes for the poems of Paul Gerhardt (1607-1676), a famous Lutheran pastor. The tune and text were first published in 1653. The war was over by then, but we can be sure that that the times were not easy, because vast numbers of people had died in the war or because of the plague. Entire areas were left unpopulated in Germany.”– C. Michael Hawn, Southern Methodist University
It is important to realize that, while this hymn was written during such a difficult time, it is still just as relevant today. Amid all the violence and strife that we read about every day, we turn to hymns and prayers such as these for words of strength and comfort. Perhaps this hymn is not so different from our anthem, Precious Lord, Take My Hand. The human experience remains much the same throughout generations, and we turn to Christ, our joy, throughout history in word and song.
Kathleen Armstrong Thomerson (b. 1934) is a native of Tennessee. She wrote the hymn during the summer of 1966 during a visit to the Church of the Redeemer in Houston, Texas, the location providing the origin for the tune name HOUSTON. Her musical education took place at the University of Texas and Syracuse University, with additional studies at the Flemish Royal Conservatory in Antwerp. She has studied with several of the most noted organists of the twentieth century.” – C. Michael Hawn, Southern Methodist University
This hymn is a favorite here at Christ Church Cathedral, and we will sing the first verse as our hymn in procession to the font this Sunday. We often use this hymn when celebrating Holy Baptism because of the simplicity and transparency mentioned by Hawn, above. The sacrament of Baptism, as described on page 858 in the Book of Common Prayer, is the “sacrament by which God adopts us as his children and makes us members of Christ’s Body, the Church, and inheritors of the kingdom of God.” What could be better to go along with this than a hymn depicting Christ as the light of the city of God?
Author: Christopher Powell
A preview of Sunday's service music by Christopher Powell, Music Director and Organist