Strengthen Your Faith-II: Do you know Thomas Dorsey?

Thomas Dorsey

I believe his life had a series of hard-hitting situations that normally, we could never grasp. Yet he embodied a strong faith that overcomes all pain.

He was a singer and a pianist; son of a Baptist preacher; and his mother was a church organist. Throughout his early years, he felt torn between the sacred and the secular. At eleven, he left school to take a job at a local vaudeville theater. After six years, he went to Chicago. In Chicago, Dorsey found success almost immediately.

At twenty-one, he got sick so he went back to Atlanta. There, his mother admonished him to stop playing the blues and “serve the Lord.” However, He ignored her and returned to Chicago perhaps because of his inclination to perform. He married his sweetheart, Nettie Harper. In 1925, he got very sick again that he could no longer play the piano.

It could have had been a cruel moment in his life.

He recovered three years later and committed himself to composing sacred music. However, mainstream churches rejected his songs. Maybe because of his musical style, which is blues.

However, it was in 1932 that Dorsey experienced the biggest crisis in his life. One night in August that year, he had an engagement. At first, he was reluctant to go because his wife was pregnant and sick but he had already committed previously so he had to go. He checked his wife in their room before he left the house and he found her calmly sleeping.

The engagement was successful requests come one after another. Until, he received a call with heart breaking news: his wife was rushed to the hospital. By the time he arrived at the hospital, both his wife and child had died already during delivery.

It filled him so much with grief that he wanted to drop singing and music altogether. He was asking why. Then one day, in the middle of terrible pain and sorrow, he turned to the piano. He started playing a tune on the piano and a new gospel song was born: “Take My Hand, Precious Lord”.

 

“Take My Hand, Precious Lord”

by Thomas A. Dorsey

 

Precious Lord, take my hand

Lead me on, let me stand

I’m tired, I’m weak, I’m 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.

 

We cannot understand why things like that happen. Perhaps, its just a normal cycle of life, birth and death. However, we can use such experiences as a spring board to reach higher ground. After that terrible tragedy in his life, Dorsey bounced up and co-founded the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses in 1933. Six years later, he teamed with Mahalia Jackson, and the team ushered in what was known as the “Golden Age of Gospel Music” in America. Dorsey himself became known as the father of gospel music.

God is good all the time!

to be continued