Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Rev. Thomas A. Dorsey - "Take My Hand, Precious Lord"

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post presents information about, song lyrics, and two YouTube sound files of the Gospel song "Take My Hand Precious Lord" (also known as "Precious Lord, Take My Hand"; and "Precious Lord".) Information about Thomas A. Dorsey, that song's composer, is also included in this post.

The content of this post is presented for religious, historical, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

"Take My Hand, Precious Lord" (aka "Precious Lord, Take My Hand") is a gospel song. The lyrics were written by Rev. Thomas A. Dorsey (1899–1993), and the melody by George Nelson Allen (1812–1877).

The melody is credited to Dorsey, drawn from an 1844 hymn entitled "Maitland" by American composer George N. Allen (1812–1877).[1] Dorsey said that he used it as inspiration.[2] The "Maitland" music was for the text "Must Jesus Bear the Cross Alone," and first appeared in The Oberlin Social and Sabbath School Hymn Book.[3] Dorsey wrote "Precious Lord" in response to his inconsolable bereavement at the death of his wife, Nettie Harper, in childbirth, and his infant son in August 1932.[4] (Mr. Dorsey can be seen telling this story in the 1981 gospel music documentary Say Amen, Somebody.) The earliest known recording was made on February 16, 1937, by the Heavenly Gospel Singers (Bluebird B6846).[5] "Take My Hand, Precious Lord" is published in more than 40 languages.[6]

(Thomas A. Dorsey)

Precious Lord, take my hand
Lead me on, let me stand
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn
Through the storm, through the night
Lead me on to the light
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

When my way grows drear
Precious Lord linger near
When my life is almost gone
Hear my cry, hear my call
Hold my hand lest I fall
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

When the darkness appears
And the night draws near
And the day is past and gone
At the river I stand
Guide my feet, hold my hand
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

Precious Lord, take my hand
Lead me on, let me stand
I'm tired, I'm weak, I'm lone*
Through the storm, through the night
Lead me on to the light
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home
*The third line in the last verse is often sung as "I'm tired, I'm weak, I'm worn".

The lyrics that Rev. Dorsey sang at are given below.

Example #1: Take My Hand, Precious Lord - Thomas Dorsey

Walter Robinson, published on Aug 4, 2013

This is a special channel featuring the best in traditional and contemporary gospel music.
Here's the first verse of this rendition* [as sung by Rev. Thomas A. Dorsey at a 1983 Gospel convention event]**

Precious Lord, I love Your name
When I look back
From whence I came
Sometimes stumbling,
Sometimes falling,
Sometimes alone.
Friends and loved ones
I loved so dear
Many are gone
But still I'm here.
Take my hand, Precious Lord
And lead me home.
The remainder of the song is the same as the first two verses of the standard lyrics given above.
*Transcription by Azizi Powell from the video. Additions & corrections are welcome.

** This recording is featured in the 1983 album Say Amen Somebody

Here's information about that album from ttp:// "Say Amen, Somebody Soundtrack CD"

"The soundtrack to George T. Nierenberg's fine 1982 film documentary on gospel music, Say Amen, Somebody isn't quite as explosive an experience with the visual elements stripped away, but it still packs a pretty joyous punch. Nierenberg centered his film around two pioneering gospel artists, Rev. Thomas A. Dorsey, who wrote scores of gospel classics, including "Take My Hand, Precious Lord" and "Peace in the Valley," and Willie Mae Ford Smith, whose dynamic "song and sermon" approach to gospel set an almost impossible to duplicate performance standard. Dorsey was 83 years old (he died in 1993) and Smith was 79 years old (she passed in 1994) when Nierenberg shot his film in 1980, so he literally captured the twilight phase of gospel's golden era.

Modern gospel truly begins with Dorsey, who morphed from the barrelhouse piano player he was in the '20s (he recorded as Georgia Tom) into the 20th century's premier gospel composer in the '30s. He's featured here in two performances, one of his a classic "Take My Hand, Precious Lord" (the great Mahalia Jackson also does a version on the album) and the other an incredibly poignant, halting and endearingly affected version of "When I've Done My Best." Smith has four tracks, highlighted by the spirited "Canaan" which closes out the set. One really has to see Smith to really appreciate what she's doing, however, as she was as much a visual testament to gospel in her performances as a vocal one. Several younger, next generation gospel artists are also given tracks here, most notably the O'Neal Twins, Edward and Edgar, on the striking "It's Gonna Rain."

The Say Amen, Somebody soundtrack was originally released in 1990 on DRG Records, and this Rykodisc reissue reproduces that release with different cover art and graphics. ~ Steve Leggett Includes liner notes by Chris Albertson. Mahalia Jackson,Willie Mae Ford Smith,Etc Engineers: Danny Michael, John Hampton, Neelon Crawford. Composer: Rev. Thomas A. Dorsey. Personnel: Lee Cochran, Bertha Smith, Charles Pikes (piano); Gene Cooper, James Ward , Lee Scott (organ); Sam Benford (bass guitar); Arnold White, Banon Buchanan (drums).

Liner Note Author: Chris Albertson. Director: George T. Nierenberg. Editor: Paul Barnes. Unknown Contributor Roles: Delois Barrett; Mahalia Jackson; The Barrett Sisters; Willie Mae Ford Smith."
This quote was reformated to increased its readability.

Example #2: Take My Hand, Precious Lord - Thomas A. Dorsey with Marion Williams

pannellctp, Published on Jan 7, 2013

Thomas A. Dorsey learned his religion from his Baptist minister father and piano from his music teacher mother in Villa Rica, Georgia, where he was born July 1, 1899. He came under the influence of local blues pianist when they moved to Atlanta in 1910.

He and his family relocated to Chicago during World War I where they joined the Pilgrim Baptist Church, and he studied at the Chicago College of Composition and Arranging and became an agent for Paramount Records.

He began his musical career known as Georgia Tom, playing barrelhouse piano in one of Al Capone's Chicago speakeasies and leading Ma Rainey's Jazz band. He hooked up with slide guitarist Hudson Tampa Red Whittaker with whom he recorded the best selling blues hit, "Tight Like That," in 1928 and wrote more than 460 Rhythm and Blues and Jazz songs.

He was soon whipped into shape to do the Lords will. Discouraged by his own efforts to publish and sell his songs through the old method of peddled song sheets and dissatisfied with the treatment given composers of race music by the music publishing industry, Dorsey became the first independent publisher of black Gospel music with the establishment of the Dorsey House of music in Chicago in 1932.

He also founded and became the President of the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses. He wrote his classic and most famous song, "Precious Lord" in the grief following the death of his first wife in childbirth in 1932.

It since has been recorded by such diverse artists as Mahalia Jackson, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, and Elvis Presley, and was the favorite Gospel song of both Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who asked that it be sung at the rally he led the night before his assassination, and of President Lyndon B. Johnson who requested that it be sung at his funeral.

Almost equally well known is his "Peace in the Valley," which he wrote for Mahalia Jackson in 1937. In October of 1979, he was the first black elected to the Nashville Songwriters International Hall of Fame.

In September 1981, his native Georgia honored him with election to the Georgia Music Hall of Fame; in March 1982, he was the first black elected to the Gospel Music Association's Living Hall of Fame; in August 1982, the Thomas A. Dorsey Archives were opened at Fisk University where his collection joined those of W. C. Handy, George Gershwin, and the Jubilee Singers.

Summing up his life, he says all his work has been from God, for God, and for his people.
Click to read interesting & informative comments about this song and this recording on this video's viewer comment thread.

Also, click for information about Gospel singer Marion Williams (August 29, 1927 – July 2, 1994).

Thanks to Rev. Thomas A. Dorsey for his musical legacy. Thanks also to Marion Williams for her musical legacy. Thanks to the publishers of those featured videos & thanks to all those who are quoted in this post.

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