GUIDE ME, O THOU GREAT JEHOVAH – written in 1745

The Story

William Williams (his parents were evidently not very creative when it came to naming their children), who wrote this hymn, had been preparing for a career in medicine. But, one Sunday morning in 1738, he heard Howell Harris, a revivalist layman, preaching in a Welsh churchyard. He trusted in Christ for his salvation, and his life dramatically changed.

For 43 years, William preached and sang, as a Methodist revivalist himself, throughout Wales… and became known as the poet laureate of the great Welsh Revival. Soon, all of Wales was singing their way to the coal mines and the soccer matches. And this hymn became one of their favorite marching songs!

In this hymn, William compares the Christian life to that journey the Israelites took through the wilderness. He refers to God feeding the children of Israel with manna, leading them with fire and a pillar of cloud, and finally guiding them across the Jordan River into Canaan.

Williams made an extraordinary reputation as an itinerant evangelist. He took the whole of Wales for his parish. His travels for 43 years are said to have averaged 2230 miles/year, at a time when there were no railroads and few stage-coaches. The greater part of Williams’ life was spent, not in a preacher’s study, but in the great outdoors.

Such self-sacrificing years of evangelism and those weary thousands of miles summed up the remainder of Williams’ life.

The Song

            Read this song, and make it your own prayer today…

Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah, pilgrim through this barren land.
I am weak, but Thou art mighty; hold me with Thy pow’rful 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 Deliv’rer, strong Deliv’rer, be Thou still my Strength and Shield;
be Thou still my Strength and Shield.

Lord, I trust Thy mighty power, wondrous are Thy works of old.
Thou deliver’st Thine from thralldom, who for naught themselves had sold.
Thou didst conquer, Thou didst conquer sin and Satan and the grave,
sin and Satan and the grave.

When I tread the verge of Jordan, bid my anxious fears subside.
Death of death and hell’s Destruction, 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.


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