He Leadeth Me

He Leadeth Me (iTunes)
Words by Joseph Gilmore, Music by William Bradbury
From the album I'll Fly Away: Country Hymns and Songs of Faith (Sparrow Records)

Joseph Gilmore (1834-1918) was born in Boston and studied at Phillips Academy in Andover, then Brown University and Newton Theological Seminary. Here is what he had to say about the writing of this week's hymn, as shared on songsandhymns.org:

As a young man... I was supplying for a couple of Sundays the pulpit of the First Baptist Church in Philadelphia. At the mid-week service on the 26th of March 1862, I set out to give the people an exposition of the Twenty-third Psalm... but this time I did not get further than the words "He leadeth me." Those words took hold of me as they had never done before, and I saw them in a significance and wondrous beauty of which I had never dreamed...

At the close of the meeting a few of us in the parlor of my host, good Deacon Wattson, kept on talking about the thought which I had emphasized; and then and there, on a blank page of the brief from which I had intended to speak, I penciled the hymn, talking and writing at the same time, then handed it to my wife and thought no more about it. She sent it to "The Watchman and Reflector," a paper published in Boston, where it was first printed. I did not know until 1865 that my hymn had been set to music by William B. Bradbury. I went to Rochester to preach... Going into their chapel on arrival in the city, I picked up a hymnal to see what they were singing, and opened it at my own hymn, "He Leadeth Me."