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When Joseph Gilmore was just out of seminary, he filled in a couple of weeks at FBC in Philadelphia, PA. And he gave this testimony:

"At the mid-week service, on the 26th of March, 1862, I set out to give the people an exposition of the 23rd Psalm, which I had given before on three or four occasions. But this time I did not get further than the words ’He Leadeth Me.’ Those words took hold of me as they had never done before, and I saw them in a significance and wondrous beauty of which I had never dreamed.

"It was the darkest hour of the Civil War. I did not refer to that fact, that is, I don’t think I did, but it may subconsciously have led me to realize that God’s leadership is the one significant fact in human experience, that it makes no difference how we are led, or whither we are led, so long as we are sure God is leading us.

"At the close of the meeting, a few of us in the parlor of my host, good Deacon Wattson, kept on talking about the thought I had emphasized; Then and there, on a blank page of the brief from which I had intended to speak, I penciled the hymn, talking and writing at the same time, then handed it to my wife and thought no more about it.

"She sent it to The Watchman and Reflector, a paper published in Boston. I did not know until 1865 that my hymn had been set to music by William B. Bradbury. I went to Rochester (NY) to preach as a candidate before the Second Baptist Church. Going into their chapel on arrival in the city, I picked up a hymnal to see what they were singing, and opened it (to) my own hymn:

He leadeth me, O blessèd thought!

O words with heav’nly comfort fraught!

Whate’er I do, where’er I be

Still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me.

He leadeth me, He leadeth me,

By His own hand He leadeth me;

His faithful follower I would be,

For by His hand He leadeth me.

(Source: Adapted from From a sermon by Rick Crandall, "The Shepherd Psalm" 6/28/2009)

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