His "Precious Lord" Took his Hand 06/02/2015

by Thomas A. Dorsey
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 south side. 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.

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

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
same night, the baby died. I buried Nettie and our
little boy together, in the same casket. Then I fell

For days I closeted myself. I felt that God had done
me an injustice. I didn't want to serve Him anymore
or write gospel songs. I just wanted to go back to
that jazz world I once knew so well.

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 my self playing a
melody, once 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.'

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.

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