Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Real Story Behind the Song

There have been many printed references to this story and connected it to the great American band leader, Tommy Dorsey.

But the classic gospel song "Precious Lord Take My Hand" was actually written by a different man with the same name.

The trombonist and band leader named Tommy Dorsey was born in 1905 and died in 1956.

Thomas Andrew Dorsey the composer of "Precious Lord Take My Hand" was a jazz pianist and composer was born in 1899 and died in 1993.
He is regarded by many as the father of gospel music.
After a successful career as a blues musician, he switched to gospel music.
For more than 40 years, he was the choir director Chicago's Pilgrim Baptist Church.

The actual story of the tragic death of his wife is a bit different from the eRumor.

In an account in his own words written for Guideposts Magazine, Dorsey said he was actually scheduled to be in St. Louis to sing for a revival.
He had anxiety about going because his wife was in her 9th month of pregnancy
When he left his home to head for St. Louis, he realized that he had forgotten his music case, so he returned to get it and found his wife sleeping.
He stood next to her and felt that something was telling him to stay home. 
He decided to leave and headed back to his car for the drive to the meetings.
The next night at the revival and after he had finished singing, a telegram was handed to him that said his wife had just died.
He returned home to learn that his wife had given birth to a baby boy before she died.
Before the night was over, the baby had died as well.
Dorsey went through a difficult period after that.
He said he wanted to give up serving the Lord and go back to jazz.
One of the thoughts that haunted him was whether his reluctance to leave his pregnant wife had been a leading from God and whether he had been disobedient by ignoring it.
He vowed that he would never be insensitive to such a leading again.
It was during a subsequent visit to a friend that he sat down at a piano and found himself at peace and a melody being played.
That became the song "Precious Lord Take My Hand."
Dorsey wrote, "As the Lord gave me these words and melody, He also healed my spirit. I learned that when we are in our deepest grief, when we feel farthest from God, this is when He is closest, and when we are most open to His restoring power. And so I go on living for God willingly and joyfully, until that day comes when He will take me and gently lead me home."


  1. Thanks for the story Eddie. Love hearing stories behind the songs.

  2. Thomas Dorsey talks about it here:

    Here he is leading it the way he meant it to be:

    1. Thanks Jim, those are great additions to this post.

  3. Nice! We need more tales like this!


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