Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah (Strength in Hymn)

Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah
William Williams, 1785

Guide me, O thou great Jehovah,
pilgrim though this barren land;
I am weak, but thou art mighty;
hold me with thy powerful hand;
Bread of heaven, Bread of heaven,
feed me till I want no more,
feed me till I want no more.


Open now the crystal fountain,
whence the healing stream doth flow;
let the fire and cloudy pillar
lead me all my journey through;
strong Deliverer, strong Deliverer.
be thou still my Strength and Shield,
be thou still my Strength and Shield.

When I tread the verge of Jordan,
bid my anxious fears subside;
bear me through the swelling current,
land me safe on Canaan's side;
songs of praises, songs of praises,
I will ever give to thee,
I will ever give to thee. 

You can hear the hymn and read the story behind it here: Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah

Now, a few more related, though seemingly random, notes...

1. "Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah" is the English translation of the Welsh hymn "Arglwydd, arwain trwy’r anialwch" by William Williams, also known by its tune "Cwm Rhondda" by John Hughes. The song has quite a history, and was sung at the funeral of Princess Diana and the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics.  One English translation reads, "Guide me, O Thou Great Redeemer."

2. The Welsh are certainly famous for their hymn singing!   They took it to new levels during the revivals over 100 years ago.  You can read more about the Welsh revival of 1904-1905 here: www.welshrevival.com.  In light of one of the themes of this blog, spiritual abuse and error, it is interesting to note that the Welsh revival had its own problems. The main player, Evan Rogers, had a nervous breakdown within two years, and some people blame the overbearing influence of a lady named Jessie Penn-Lewis.  See here and here.  Quite a cautionary tale.

3. My father loves Welsh music, whether it is hymns or the military anthem "Men of Harlech."  Last week, while visiting him in Maryland, I asked him why.  "The Davis brothers," he replied quickly.  Charlie, whose grandfather was a Welsh coal miner (?) was Dad's roommate in college in New York, and brought him home to Pennsylvania once in a while.  That's where he met Charlie's cousin Mary.  They've been married for 55 years.  Anyway, even though we are not Welsh ourselves, my dad knows a huge amount about Welsh history, language and surnames -- as well as about the migration of European peoples from one region to another.  He wants to go to the 150th anniversary celebration of the Welsh community in Brazil next year?  Hmmm.  As I think of this hymn, I am reminded how much God knows about where people have been, are now, and will go -- as both groups and individuals.  He knew where my dad would go to college and where he would meet my mom.

4. Charlie's niece Jean is a good friend to me.  I'm so glad our paths crossed again about seven years ago, another of God's divine "guide me" incidents in my life.  (See also here and here.) Jean lent me her GPS for two weeks while we were on vacation this past month. I used it many many times and often thought of God's more intimate guidance in our lives, so much better than an impersonal machine mounted on my dashboard.  Anyway, while I was at her house in North Carolina, we were talking about her Welsh and Irish heritage.  She mentioned that her Perry ancestors, who immigrated from Ireland, were actually Huguenots who fled France during the Catholic persecution.  I told her that my own ancestor Andre Lamoureux, also a Huguenot, rescued French refugees and took them to England and Ireland on his own ship.  I love the book The French Pilot by Allen Steele, which tells this story.  Wouldn't it be interesting if my ancestor rescued her ancestor from religious oppression?  Just another of those "God knows where we are going" stories, I think. Perhaps I will feature a Huguenot hymn in this series later? I understand they often sang the Psalms for comfort, most notably Psalm 68.

5. The pictures here are from my vacation photo posts Catoctin Mountain Park and Cunningham Falls State Park.

That's about all for now!  Be sure to check out all of the entries in this Strength in Hymn series!

Virginia Knowles


  1. Love this hymn. I really enjoy the new praise and worship music but some hymns really hit the mark - powerful words and music.
    Found you at whole hearted home.
    Janis www.janiscox.com

  2. 'Guide Me Oh Thou Great Jehovah' is a wonderful hymn. Thanks for sharing its origin in the Welsh Revivals. That is really interesting.

    Thanks for sharing over at WholeHearted Home this past week.