Precious Lord Take my Hand Hymn

Precious Lord Take my Hand – Introduction of the Hymn

This is The Hymn of the Week with Dr. Larry Frazier—presenting the good news in song, combining faith and everyday experience. 

Blues Pianist

Welcome to The Hymn of the Week. It was the “roaring 20’s.” A man known as “Barrel House Tom” established a career as a blues pianist, first in Atlanta, and then in Chicago. He was from Villa Rica, Georgia, a town closer to Alabama than to Atlanta. His father was a poor sharecropper and itinerant preacher; his mother, a piano teacher. So it follows, his earliest musical experience was in the church.

Piano Accompanist

“Barrel House Tom” performed as piano accompanist for singers such as Mahalia Jackson, Clara Ward and Della Reese. He was such an accomplished blues pianist that Ma Rainey personally chose him to lead her “Wild Cats Jazz Band.”

Then, tragedy struck. His wife died in childbirth, and the next day his infant son also died. Thomas A. Dorsey poured out his grief and cried out in faith to his lord and savior in a great hymn. This hymn has comforted many through the years and was a favorite of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “Precious Lord, Take my Hand” is…"The Hymn of the Week!”

Click Below for Precious
Lord Take my Hand Lyrics

Precious Lord Take my Hand Lyrics Graphic Template

Precious Lord Take my Hand: Hymn
of the Week Radio Show Episode

Reading of Precious
Lord Take my Hand Lyrics

(Lead Me On)

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
Refrain: Take my hand, precious Lord,
Lead me home
.

(Hold my Hand)

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:
Refrain: Take my hand, precious Lord,
Lead me home
.

(Guide my Feet)

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:
Refrain: Take my hand, precious Lord,
Lead me home
.

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And now, let us hear our hymn, beautifully and poignantly sung by Mahalia Jackson.

Background of Precious
Lord Take my Hand

Thomas Andrew Dorsey was born in Villa Rica, Georgia, in 1899. He moved to Chicago while still a teenager. By the 1920’s, he had established himself as one of the finest blues pianists. As a result, he performed with noted jazz bands and accompanied famous singers. 

He was also a popular composer and leader of gospel music in Chicago through his association with the National Baptist Convention.In 1931, he established a gospel choir at Chicago’s Ebenezer Baptist Church. The next year, Pilgrim Baptist, the second largest church in Chicago hired him to organize and direct a gospel chorus.

1932, Pivotal Year

1932 was a pivotal year in the life of Thomas A. Dorsey. Following the deaths of his wife and son, he renounced blues music, turning his focus to Gospel music. He wrote much sacred music, including the beautiful gospel song, If You See my Savior. This launched his career in church music. However, nothing else he wrote equaled the universal impact of Precious Lord Take my Hand.

And now, we hear our hymn performed by the Christ the King Choir.

Background of the Tune

Thomas A. Dorsey adapted the tune Maitland, by nineteenth-century composer George N. Allen (1812-1877), for Precious Lord, Take my Hand. Allen wrote Maitland to be sung with the hymn, Must Jesus Bear the Cross Alone. Appropriately, Dorsey named his music, Precious Lord.

Gospel Blues

With Precious Lord, Take my Hand, Dorsey beautifully merged the personal, expressive and poignant styles of the blues and gospel song. This new style has become known as “gospel blues.” 

Late in 1932, that most fateful year in his life, he founded the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses. By then, he was affectionately known as “Georgia Tom.” He was elected president, a position he held for over 50 years until retirement in 1983. During this time, he turned his attention away from playing solos and duets to conducting large gospel choruses.

A Long Life

Thomas A. Dorsey lived to see “gospel blues” become an important branch of mainstream sacred music of the twentieth century. He died in 1993, at the age of 93 from complications of Alzheimer’s. 

And now, let us hear Dorsey’s tune, Precious Lord, as performed by the Eden Symphony.

Devotion or Scripture
Related to the Hymn

Let us conclude with the inspiring story of our hymn as told in his own words by Thomas A. Dorsey with Marion Williams.

“Blues, jazz, the Gospel. I want to talk about the gospel songs. After going that field, I went out to go to St. Louis one morning to work a revival. I left my wife asleep in bed. Got in my car, and I went along. She was going to become a mother, and I was anticipating a great happiness and great joy on my return.

Your Wife just Died; Come Home

When I got to St. Louie and about the second night in the meeting, a telegram boy came and brought me a telegram. I opened it and read, “your wife just died; come home.” I couldn’t finish the meeting.

Finally, I got home to Chicago the next morning. And it was so; I found it all true. They never moved the body. And that chilled me, killed me off! I wanted to go back to 

But, after putting my wife away and the baby in the same casket, I went to old Poro College, in the music room. There, crying, I just ‘brosed’ over the keys. And seemingly the words, like drops of water from a crevice of a rock above, seemed to drop in line. With me only piano, Precious Lord, Take my Hand. Lead me on, let me stand. I’m tired, I’m weak, I’m worn. Through the storm, through the night, lead me on to the light. Take my hand, precious Lord, and lead me home.

God Bless You and Keep You

Now, God has blessed. I have another family; I have a wife, a son, a daughter and a grandson about seven or eight years old. And the Lord has led me, and he will lead you. And I hope, someway, somehow, if you don’t sing, Precious Lord Take my Hand, you will learn to sing it. Sing it with a feeling and a fervor. God bless you and keep you.”

Thank you for joining me for this episode of “The Hymn of the Week.” Tune in again, next week, when we will consider another great hymn.

Until then, this is your host, Dr. Larry Frazier…

Goodbye and Keep Singing!

About the Author Larry Frazier

Larry spent 24 years teaching music at the University of West Georgia to over 6,000 students. Ten years ago, Larry and his wife Mary Lynn, received comfort, support and inspiration from traditional Christian hymns while she overcame stage-three colon cancer. Larry is on a mission to help you discover God’s incredible power through the intersection of faith and Christian music in your life.

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