Closing Hymn Story
"HE LEADETH ME"
(CH 393; SDAH 537)
In the spring of 1862 Joseph Henry Gilmore, a Baptist minister, visited the city of Philadelphia. He was invited to address the midweek prayer meeting at the First Baptist church. He spoke there of God's leadership, using part of the Shepherd Psalm as a basis for his talk. He was so impressed by the simple words "He leadeth me" that he continued to discuss this theme at the home of his host, Deacon Wattson of Arch Street, Philadelphia. His mind was so full of the thought of God's guidance in every phase of life that there and then he wrote these four stanzas in pencil, and passed them on to his wife without comment. Without telling her husband, she sent the poem to a religious periodical, The Watchman and Reflector in Boston. It appeared in print in the December 4, 1862, issue, still without his knowledge. Three years later Gilmore was to preach in the Baptist church in Rochester, New York. Taking up a hymnbook and opening it at random, he was astonished to find his own poem set to music. He did not recognize nor acknowledge his authorship of the refrain until his wife's death some years later and he discovered his original manuscript among his papers, complete with a refrain, but of two lines only.
The words are a very free paraphrase of part of the Shepherd Psalm: "He leadeth me beside the still waters. . . . Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me" (Ps. 23:2, 4).
Gilmore was born in Boston on April 29, 1834, and educated at Brown University and Newton Theological Seminary. He was ordained into the Baptist ministry in 1862 and served at Fisherville, New Hampshire, for a year. Then he was private secretary to his father, the governor of New Hampshire, but after one year he began pastoring the Baptist church in Rochester, New York. In 1868 he was appointed professor of logic and English literature at the University of Rochester; he held that position until he retired in 1911. He died at Rochester on July 23, 1918.
The tune, sometimes called HE LEADETH ME, or AUGHTON, was composed by William Batchelder Bradbury (1816-1868) was published in his The Golden Censer, 1864. Bradbury had noticed Gilmore's hymn in The Watchman and Reflector, enlarged the refrain, and wrote the tune to fit the words.
The first Adventist hymnal to include this hymn was Hymns and Tunes, published in 1886.
--From Wayne Hooper and Edward E. White, Companion to the Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal, 1988, pp. 510-511.