JUST A CLOSER WALK WITH THEE                                                   written in 1940

The Story

This was probably the most popular southern gospel song of the 20th-century… but no one knows who wrote it or the circumstances of its writing. It became known nationally when African American churches held large musical conventions. In the 1940s, southern gospel quartets featured it at all-night gospel singing rallies. In the 1950s, Elvis Presley set sales records with this song. In the 1960s, Tennessee Ernie Ford made the charts with it. By the time the 1970s had ended, more than 100 recording artists had cut a record with this song.

Its history probably goes back to an unknown writer in the slave fields of the South before the Civil War. Southern black church choirs kept the hymn alive until World War 2.

In 1940, Kenneth Morris (1917-1988), a black gospel singer, arranged and published the version we know today. He researched the song and determined it had not been published and had his version printed for the first time.

The song became popular during World War II. The words supply a message found in both the Old and New Testaments.

This song has been a favorite in hymnals since its first printing… especially at funerals.

The Song

            Read this hymn, and – today – take a close walk with Jesus.

Just a closer walk with Thee,
grant it, Jesus, is my plea;
daily walking close to Thee,
let it be, dear Lord, let it be.

I am weak, but Thou art strong,
Jesus, keep me from all wrong;
I’ll be satisfied as long
as I walk, let me walk close to Thee.

Through this world of toil and snares,
if I falter, Lord, who cares?
Who with me my burden shares?
None but Thee, dear Lord, none but Thee.

When my feeble life is o’er,
time for me will be no more;
guide me gently, safely o’er
to Thy kingdom’s shore, to Thy shore.


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