Thomas Dorsey grew up playing blues and jazz piano, sometimes in pretty disreputable places. But he underwent a religious conversion, and things really began to come together for him. He formed his own music publishing company, got married, and had just accepted a prestigious new job as choral director at Pilgrim Baptist Church in Chicago.
He accepted an invitation to play at a revival in St. Louis, leaving his pregnant wife in Chicago. While on the road he got a message that his wife had died in childbirth. He hurried back to Chicago, and his infant son died a few hours after his arrival. He was devastated. He related that he buried both of them in the same casket; only his faith sustained him in that bleak period. “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground” (Psalm 143:10).
Later that year he wrote a song to express both his grief and his faith, in appreciation to the God who had carried him along in his time of sorrow. The hymn has brought comfort to many millions of people; Mahalia Jackson sang it at the funeral of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The hymn was “Precious Lord, Take My Hand.” Are you familiar with it? If not, check it out in a hymnbook or online. Sing its beautiful words.
Pastor Mark Jeske has been bringing the Word of God to viewers of Time of Grace since the program began airing in late 2001. A Milwaukee native, Pastor Jeske has served as the senior pastor at St. Marcus, a multicultural congregation on Milwaukee’s near north side since 1980. In addition, he is the author of six books and dozens of devotional booklets on various topics.
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