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Updated 05/30/2013


He Leadeth Me

Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Henry Gilmore (1834-1918) wrote the lyrics for “He Leadeth Me.”

Joseph, son of New Hamp­shire Gov­er­nor Jo­seph A. Gil­more, grad­u­at­ed in arts from Brown Un­i­ver­si­ty, and in the­ol­o­gy from New­ton The­o­lo­gic­al In­sti­tu­tion. From 1863-1864, he was his fa­ther’s as­sist­ant while he was gov­er­nor; dur­ing that per­i­od, he al­so ed­it­ed the Con­cord, New Hamp­shire, Dai­ly Mon­i­tor.

In 1865, Gil­more be­came pas­tor at the Se­cond Bap­tist Church in Ro­ches­ter, New York. He lat­er pas­tored in Fish­er­ville, New Hamp­shire. In ad­di­tion, he di­rect­ed the Eng­lish De­part­ment at the Un­i­ver­si­ty of Ro­ches­ter, New York (1868-1908).


William Bradbury

"As a young man who re­cent­ly had been grad­u­at­ed from Brown Un­i­ver­si­ty and New­ton The­o­lo­gic­al In­sti­tu­tion, I was sup­ply­ing for a cou­ple of Sun­days the pul­pit of the First Bap­tist Church in Phil­a­del­phia [Penn­syl­van­ia]. At the mid-week ser­vice, on the 26th of March, 1862, I set out to give the peo­ple an ex­po­si­tion of the Twen­ty-third Psalm, which I had giv­en be­fore on three or four oc­ca­sions, but this time I did not get fur­ther than the words “He Lead­eth Me.” Those words took hold of me as they had ne­ver done be­fore, and I saw them in a sig­ni­fi­cance and won­drous beau­ty of which I had ne­ver dreamed.

It was the dark­est hour of the Ci­vil War. I did not re­fer to that fact—that is, I don’t think I did—but it may sub­con­sciou­sly have led me to real­ize that God’s lead­er­ship is the one sig­nif­i­cant fact in hu­man ex­per­i­ence, that it makes no dif­fer­ence how we are led, or whi­ther we are led, so long as we are sure God is lead­ing us.

At the close of the meet­ing a few of us in the par­lor of my host, good Dea­con Watt­son, kept on talk­ing about the thought which I had em­pha­sized; and then and there, on a blank page of the brief from which I had in­tend­ed to speak, I pen­ciled the hymn, talk­ing and writ­ing at the same time, then hand­ed it to my wife and thought no more about it. She sent it to The Watch­man and Re­flect­or, a pa­per pub­lished in Bos­ton, where it was first print­ed. I did not know un­til 1865 that my hymn had been set to mu­sic by Will­iam B. Brad­bu­ry. I went to Ro­ches­ter [New York] to preach as a can­di­date be­fore the Se­cond Bap­tist Church. Go­ing in­to their cha­pel on ar­riv­al in the ci­ty, I picked up a hymn­al to see what they were sing­ing, and opened it at my own hymn, “He Lead­eth Me.”

The tune is by William Batchelder Bradbury (1816-1868).  Bradbury was born in York, Maine where his father was the leader of a choir. By age fourteen he had mastered every musical instrument available, but never saw an organ or a piano until 1830, when his parents moved to Boston. There he met Dr. Lowell Mason, and by 1834 was known as an organist. In 1840, he began teaching in Brooklyn, New York, where he gained popularity by his free singing-schools, and by his concerts, at which the performers, all children, sometimes numbered 1,000. In 1847 he went to Germany, where he studied harmony, composition, and vocal and instrumental music with the best masters.

In 1854, he started the Bradbury Piano Company, with his brother, Edward G. Bradbury in New York City. William Bradbury is best known as a composer and publisher of a series of musical collections for choirs and schools. He was the author and compiler of fifty-nine books. The first book was published in 1841.  He died on January 7, 1868 in Montclair, New Jersey and was buried in Bloomfield Cemetery in Bloomfield, New Jersey.

Lyrics by Joseph Gilmore


He leadeth me, O blessèd thought!
O words with heav’nly comfort fraught!
Whate’er I do, where’er I be
Still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me.

He leadeth me, He leadeth me,
By His own hand He leadeth me;
His faithful follower I would be,
For by His hand He leadeth me.

Sometimes mid scenes of deepest gloom,
Sometimes where Eden’s bowers bloom,
By waters still, over troubled sea,
Still ’tis His hand that leadeth me.


Lord, I would place my hand in Thine,
Nor ever murmur nor repine;
Content, whatever lot I see,
Since ’tis my God that leadeth me.