Summary: This message focuses on the song "Walk With Me Lord"
Songs of Our Faith Part 3
Walk With Me Lord
This morning we will examine a song that most of you know because we sing it here. The name of the song is “Walk With Me Lord.” As I was researching this song I discovered that there were several versions of it in existence. This song is so old that I could not find the original author and others have changed and/or added different verses to it based on their own experiences. As to the age of the song, it is one of many songs that are referred to as a slave song and was actually sung by slaves in the early 1800s. To understand the song, we must consider why it from a slave’s point of view.
As you might assume, the life of a slave was not a very good one back in the 19th century. Most slaves belonged to large plantations and were required to work long hours doing labor intensive work. Because of this permanent life of servitude, many slaves tried to escape while dying in the process. The plantation owners overlooked the importance of song and music to their slaves and thus the slaves could use these songs to convey hidden codes and to help boost morale of their fellow workers. Initially, slaves would use song and music to boost the overall happiness of the people they worked with, but during times of difficult labor, slaves would break out in a song to pass the time and lift their spirits. They would often sing songs that praised the Lord or asked the Lord for help and guidance. One of these songs is “Walk With Me Lord.” According to one writer, this song was usually sung by slaves during very stressful and strenuous situations. Most slaves were devout Christians not only to give them hope and faith, but to also please the white men into possibly shortening their time as a slave. These songs were constantly heard in groups and were crucial to getting through the day. As these songs were sung by slaves and handed down through the generations to their descendents, many of them remain as an integral part of the traditional African American worship experience. Before we review the lyrics of this song, I want to share how this song came to mean so much to me.
I. My Experience
I do not remember when I first learned this song, but I have sung it for as long as I have been able to sing. When you read the words of the song it speaks of a personal request someone is making of Jesus. The request is a simple request for Jesus to walk with them through their tedious journey. Depending on the version you listen to, it speaks of family members that Jesus had walked with which provided an example for the requester to follow. When I learned this song it was always personal to me. I wanted Jesus to walk with me, even when I did not fully understand what it meant. I was not thinking of others, I wanted Him at my side. This song is very personal to me.
As a child and teenager (and some say as an adult too), I have always held things close to the vest as they say. It was not that I was a quiet person, it was simply that I did not talk a lot about myself and what I dealt with. On a superficial level I would share basic things about myself during conversations, but I seldom discussed my pain, trials and tribulations. There are very few people today who really understand or even know of some of my personal experiences that have led me to be who I am. Again, I learned at an early age to talk to God, especially when I was alone. My mother told me once that I worried about things that most kids never thought about. I remember when I was in elementary school I was thinking about all the things my father knew and was responsible for and I wondered if I would ever get to the point of being that responsible. At that moment I was concerned about being a father. As a child I was concerned about bills being paid and food being available. I did not want to be that kid whose family stood in the line to get help. I did not like being that kid whose friends knew my parents were struggling to pay their bills when our phone would be cut off from time to time. During that time when the phone was cut off you’d get the message “This number has been temporarily disconnected” and all your friends would know and tease you (or the least the friends that I had.) I did not enjoy this type of attention and it was not something I could talk to my parents about. They were doing the best that they could and I did not want to make them feel worse by telling them how I felt about our situation. Because I could not talk to anyone, I talked to God. When I learned this song it became my theme song for when I was dealing with something and I felt as if I was all alone. Today, when I am dealing with something or when I am stressed, I will sing and/or listen to this song. Let me share with you the words to one of my most favorite songs, “Walk With Me Lord.”