Precious Lord, Take My Hand
Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6
Some people think this great old gospel song was written by the famous big bandleader Tommy Dorsey. It wasn’t; the author was named Thomas Andrew Dorsey, and he was the son of a black revivalist preacher.
Thomas was born in a small town in Georgia in 1899. When he was about eleven, the Dorseys moved to Atlanta where Thomas was quickly enamored with the blues and began playing piano at a vaudeville theater. Later the family moved to Chicago where he attended classes at the College of Composition and Arranging. Soon he was on stage under the name ―Georgia Tom,‖ playing barrelhouse piano in one of Al Capone’s Chicago speakeasies and leading jazz bands.
Thomas was converted at the National Baptist Convention in Chicago in 1921, and began writing gospel songs and trying to get them published. It was discouraging at first. He later said, ―I borrowed five dollars and sent out 500 copies of my song, ―If You See My Savior,‖ to churches throughout the country...It was three years before I got a single order. I felt like going back to the blues.‖
He didn’t, and gradually his reputation grew and his work became known.
In August, 1932, while leading music in St. Louis, he was handed a telegram bearing the words, ―Your wife just died.‖ He rushed to a phone to call home, but all he could hear over the line was ―Nettie is dead! Nettie is dead!‖ A friend drove him through the night, and he arrived home to learn that his baby boy had also died.
I began to feel that God had done me an injustice,‖ Thomas later said. ―I didn’t want to serve Him anymore
or write any more gospel songs.‖ But the next Saturday, while alone in a friend’s music room, he had a
strange feeling‖ inside—a sudden calm and a quiet stillness. ―As my fingers began to manipulate over the
keys, words began to fall in place on the melody like drops of water falling from the crevice of the rock:
Precious Lord, take my hand Lead me on, let me stand I am tired, I am weak, I am worn…
Today Thomas A. Dorsey is remembered as the ―Father of Gospel Music‖ and the author of hundreds of gos- pel songs including his equally famous, ―Peace in the Valley.‖
From “Then Sings My Soul” Robert J. Morgan