1 When we walk with the Lord
in the light of his word,
what a glory he sheds on our way!
While we do his good will,
he abides with us still,
and with all who will trust and obey.
Trust and obey, for there's no other way
to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
2 Not a burden we bear,
not a sorrow we share,
but our toil he doth richly repay;
not a grief or a loss,
not a frown or a cross,
but is blest if we trust and obey. [Refrain]
3 But we never can prove
the delights of his love
until all on the altar we lay;
for the favor he shows,
for the joy he bestows,
are for them who will trust and obey. [Refrain]
4 Then in fellowship sweet
we will sit at his feet,
or we'll walk by his side in the way;
what he says we will do,
where he sends we will go;
never fear, only trust and obey. [Refrain]
United Methodist HymnalM, 1989
|First Line:||When we walk with the Lord|
|Title:||Trust and Obey|
|Author:||John H. Sammis (1887)|
|Meter:||6.6.9 D with refrain|
|Refrain First Line:||Trust and obey, for there's no other way|
|Notes:||Spanish translation: See "Al andar con Jesús"|
|Liturgical Use:||Songs of Response|
st. 1 = 1 John 5:2-3, Prov.16:20
st. 2 = Ex. 19:5
Daniel B. Towner, composer of the tune, writes about the origins of this well-known gospel hymn:
Mr. Moody [Dwight L.] was conducting a series of meetings in Brockton, Massachusetts [presumably in 1886] and I had the pleasure of singing for him there. One night a young man rose in a testimony meeting and said, "I am not quite sure-but I am going to trust, and I am going to obey." I just jotted that sentence down, and sent it with the little story to the Rev. John H. Sammis, a Presbyterian minister. He wrote the hymn, and the tune was born.
-Ira D. Sankey, The Story of the Gospel Hymns, 1906
John Henry Sammis (b. Brooklyn, NY, 1846; d. Los Angeles, CA, 1919) wrote the chorus lines first and then the five stanzas, after which Towner composed the tune. The hymn was published in Hymns Old and New (1887). Because of its use in the Dwight L. Moody and Ira D. Sankey crusades and its printing in Sankey hymnals, "When We Walk with the Lord" became widely known.
The refrain provides the text's theme: trust and obey the Lord (Prov. 16:20). The three stanzas develop this theme: we show our trust by walking with God in accord with his Word and with total commitment to his will for our lives.
Sammis was a successful businessman in Logansport, Indiana, and active as a Christian layman. His volunteer work for the YMCA eventually led to a change of career. He studied at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois, graduated from Lane Theological Seminary, and was ordained in the Presbyterian Church in 1880. He served congregations in Glidden, Iowa; Indianapolis, Indiana; Grand Haven, Michigan; Red Wing, Minnesota; and Sullivan, Indiana. From 1909 until his death he was a teacher at the Bible Institute of Los Angeles.
With Scripture reading before or after the sermon; on various occasions of worship as a hymn of encouragement, commitment and dedication, and testimony.
--Psalter Hymnal Handbook, 1987
This hymn was inspired by a story from one of Dwight L. Moody's evangelistic meetings, held in Brockton, Massachusetts, in the mid-1880's, where Daniel B. Towner heard a young man say “I am not quite sure – but I am going to trust, and I am going to obey.” Towner wrote down that sentence, and sent it, with the story about the young man, to a Presbyterian minister named John H. Sammis, who wrote the refrain and then the stanzas of this hymn (Ira Sankey, My Life and the Story of the Gospel Hymn, 1907, p. 326). It was published, along with Towner's tune, in Hymns Old and New in 1887.
This hymn is known either by the first line (“When we walk with the Lord”) or the phrase that ends every stanzas and begins and ends the refrain (“Trust and obey”). The first stanza speaks of the blessedness of following God. The second stanza (“Not a shadow”) assures us that God will remove all sorrow from our lives; this stanza is often omitted, as it is not a realistic picture of life this side of heaven. The third stanza (“Not a burden”) assures us that God will give us the strength to deal with the troubles that life brings, while the fourth (“But we never can prove”) warns us that total surrender is required in order to share God's promised blessings. The final stanza (“Then in fellowship sweet”) paints a picture of blissful communion with God as we live out a life of trusting obedience.
Daniel B. Towner wrote the tune to fit the text, with which it was published in 1887, and for which it is named – TRUST AND OBEY. There are a few places where this tune is traditionally altered in some churches. One is singing the pairs of eighth notes in dotted rhythm. Another is the insertion of an extra measure at the last note of the first long phrase (the word “way” in the first stanza). The last is the placement of a fermata on the second syllable of “Jesus” in the refrain. For effective congregational leadership, it is a good idea to be aware of these variances, as newer members of a congregation may be familiar with a different way of singing the tune. TRUST AND OBEY should be sung at a brisk tempo with an upbeat accompaniment.
This hymn may be used as a hymn of response to testimony, prayer, or preaching at any time of year. It can be paired with another hymn on the same theme, such as “'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus” or “Blessed Assurance.” It is also appropriate as a song of invitation prior to a testimony or sermon, especially as an instrumental setting. Possible instrumental ensembles include handbells, as in a creative arrangement of “Trust and Obey” featuring a variety of treatments for this classic tune, or a straightforward brass quartet arrangement of “Trust and Obey” featuring imitation and dynamic contrast.
Tiffany Shomsky, Hymnary.org