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The carillon tune playing from the tower of Goddard Chapel for the month of February celebrates Black History Month as well as the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” was written in 1932 by the Reverend Thomas A. Dorsey, who is considered “the father of black gospel music”. Reverend Dorsey wrote this hymn at a very difficult time in his life: his wife, Nettie Harper, had died in childbirth, followed by their newborn son. The text is a plea to God that, when life is hardest on us, we will not have to suffer alone.  

The tune itself is also written by Reverend Dorsey, drawing inspiration from another hymn tune (“Maitland”), first published in 1844. Dorsey said “Precious Lord” was the greatest song he had written. It was a favorite of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who often had gospel singer Mahalia Jackson sing it at rallies. He also asked that it be sung at his funeral. It was likewise performed at the funeral of President Lyndon B. Johnson by famed opera singer Leontyne Price. It continues to be widely sung today and has been published in over 40 languages.


“Precious Lord, Take My Hand”

Precious Lord, take my hand.

Lead me on, help 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, lead me 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.

To learn more about the carillon, or University Chaplaincy musical opportunities, please contact Interim Music Director and Organist David Green.