THE BIRTH OF THE SONG "PRECIOUS LORD"
Back in 1932 I was 32 years old and a fairly new husband. My wife,
Nettie, and I were living in a little apartment on Chicago's Southside.
One hot August afternoon I had to go to St. Louis, where I was to be the
featured soloist at a large revival meeting.
I didn't want to go. Nettie was in the last month of pregnancy with our
first child. But a lot of people were expecting me in St. Louis.
I kissed Nettie good-bye, clattered downstairs to our Model A and, in a
fresh Lake Michigan breeze, chugged out of Chicago on Route 66.
However, outside the city, I discovered that in my anxiety at leaving, I
had forgotten my music case. I wheeled around and headed back. I found
Nettie sleeping peacefully. I hesitated by her bed; something was
strongly telling me to stay. But eager to get on my way, and not wanting
to disturb Nettie, I shrugged off the feeling and quietly slipped out of
the room with my music.
The next night, in the steaming St. Louis heat, the crowd called on me
to sing again and again. When I finally sat down, a messenger boy ran up
with a Western Union telegram. I ripped open the envelope.
Pasted on the yellow sheet were the words: YOUR WIFE JUST DIED.
People were happily singing and clapping around me, but I could hardly
keep from crying out. I rushed to a phone and called home.
All I could hear on the other end was "Nettie is dead. Nettie is dead."
When I got back, I learned that Nettie had given birth to a boy. I swung
between grief and joy.
Yet that night, the baby died. I buried Nettie and our little both
together, in the same casket. Then I fell apart.
For days I closeted myself. I felt that God had done me an injustice. I
didn't want to serve Him any more or write gospel songs. I just wanted to
go back to that jazz world I once knew so well. But then, as I hunched
alone in that dark apartment those first sad days, I thought back to the
afternoon I went to St. Louis. Something kept telling me to stay with
Was that something God? Oh, if I had paid more attention to Him that
day, I would have stayed and been with Nettie when she died. From that
moment on I vowed to listen more closely to Him. But still I was lost in
Everyone was kind to me, especially a friend, Professor Fry, who seemed
to know what I needed. On the following Saturday evening he took me up to
Malone's Poro College, a neighborhood music school. It was quiet; the
late evening sun crept through the curtained windows. I sat down at the
piano, and my hands began to browse over the keys. Something happened to
me then. I felt at peace. I felt as though I could reach out and touch
God. I found myself playing a melody, one into my head-they just seemed
to fall into place:
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.
As the Lord gave me these words and melody, He also healed my spirit. I
learned that when we are in our deepest grief, when we feel farthest from
God, this is when He is closest, and when we are most open to His
restoring power. And so I go on living for God willingly and joyfully,
until that day comes when He will take me and gently lead me home.
-Tommy Dorsey/ "The Birth of "Precious Lord"
by Tommy A. Dorsey, GUIDEPOST
It's not over, scroll down.
Sometimes our greatest and most accurate observations about God come in
moments of utter despair and desperation, when life seems futile and God
seems silent. Such was the case for Tommy Dorsey. Such was the case for
the Psalmist. Perhaps this is your experience as well.
God is never gone. He is always present, ready to render aid to those
who will seek and accept His type of help. Our problem, perhaps, is that
when we are out of options with only one hope left-God, we seem to tell
him exactly how He should get us out of the mess we got ourselves into.
We need to let God be God.
Let Him, from His eternal perspective and heavenly vantage, choose the
solution to our woes. He will never let you down or leave you. Remember
the poem "Foot Prints"? when you see only a pair of footprints in the
sand, don't assume that they are yours. In fact, at the times you called
out to God and let Him help you, those footprints are the Lord's as He
I pray that your week will be blessed. Reach out to someone in pain or
sorrow this week. Let them know how very much our Lord loves them. Be a
visible reminder of the compassion and mercy that God has for us.
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