573. O Master, Let Me Walk with Thee

1 O Master, let me walk with thee
in lowly paths of service free;
tell me thy secret; help me bear
the strain of toil, the fret of care.

2 Help me the slow of heart to move
by some clear, winning word of love;
teach me the wayward feet to stay,
and guide them in the homeward way.

3 Teach me thy patience; still with thee
in closer, dearer company,
in work that keeps faith sweet and strong,
in trust that triumphs over wrong.

4 In hope that sends a shining ray
far down the future's broadening way,
in peace that only thou canst give,
with thee, O Master, let me live.

Text Information
First Line: O master, let me walk with thee
Title: O Master, Let Me Walk with Thee
Author: Washington Gladden (1879)
Meter: LM
Language: English
Publication Date: 1987
Scripture: ; ; ; ;
Topic: Walk with God; Holy Spirit; Hope (2 more...)
Tune Information
Composer: H. Percy Smith (1874)
Meter: LM
Key: E♭ Major

Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 1 = 1 John 2:5-6
st. 3 = Gal. 5:16

Washington Gladden (b. Pottsgrove, PA, 1836; d. Columbus, OH, 1918) wrote the original poem from which this text was taken. It was published in three long stanzas in the magazine he edited, The Sunday Afternoon (March 1879), with the title “Walking with God.” Gladden explained that his poem "had no liturgical purpose" but was intended as "an honest cry of human need, of the need for divine companionship."

Interestingly enough, this meditative text on Christian service (with a gentle quality confirmed by the use of the MARYTON tune) is the work of a man who, by the end of the nineteenth century, was considered to be a powerful spokesman and activist for the liberal "social gospel." Ordained in 1860, Gladden was a Congregational minister who served churches in New York, Massachusetts, and Ohio. He gained national prominence during his pastorate at the First Congregational Church in Columbus, Ohio (1882-1914), because of his advocacy of the church's strong role in issues of social justice for the laboring people and because of his use of modern methods of biblical criticism. Educated at Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts, Gladden edited the New York Independent and was one of the editors of the Pilgrim Hymnal (1904). Included in his many writings are The Christian Way (1877), Applied Christianity (1887), Christianity and Socialism (1905), and a fascinating essay, 'Tainted Money" (1905), in which he criticized his denomination for accepting a $100,000 gift from Standard Oil’s Rockefeller.

Charles H. Richards revised stanzas 1 and 3 of Gladden's poem and published them as a hymn text in four shorter stanzas in his Songs of Christian Praise (1880). Richards's revision appears in most modern hymnals. The text emphasizes that an intimate walk with God is expressed in Christian service to our neighbors: in bearing burdens (st. 1), in actions of love and patient leadership (st. 2-3), and in striving for hope and peace (st. 4).

Liturgical Use:
As a post-sermon hymn or prayer hymn; fitting for worship that focuses on Christian ministries in the world.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

After various tunes had been set to this text, Gladden insisted on the use of MARYTON. Composed by H. Percy Smith (b. Malta, 1825; d. Bournemouth, Hampshire, England, 1898), the tune was originally published as a setting for John Keble's "Sun of My Soul" in Arthur S. Sullivan's Church Hymns with Tunes (1874).

Henry Percy Smith was educated at Balliol College, Oxford, England, and ordained a priest in the Church of England in 1850. He served five churches, including St. Michael's York Town in Farnborough (1851-1868), Great Barton in Suffolk (1868-¬1882), Christ Church in Cannes, France (1882-1892), and the Cathedral in Gibraltar (1892-1898). MARYTON is his only tune found in contemporary hymnals and is thought to be the only tune he published.

MARYTON is a serviceable but generic nineteenth-century hymn tune; its wide-ranged melody reaches a high point in the middle phrases. Sing the first and final stanzas in unison and the middle stanzas in parts. Because textual and musical phrases are often at odds with each other in this hymn, a competent choir may aid the singing by following the punctuation and not breathing in the middle of textual phrases. Keep the tempo moving!

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

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