Recently I have been revisiting some of the older gospel songs and hymns that were especially meaningful to me during my teenage and college years. They powerfully described my spiritual experience and expressed the praise and gratitude I wished to communicate to God. As beautiful and poetic as some of these old hymns are, I have found that translating the lyrics into my contemporary heart language (e.g. changing “thee” to “you” and updating terms that are generally unfamiliar) made them even more useful as prayers and conversations with God. In their revised form they express my current thoughts and feelings more accurately than the “old” language did. I realize that in many cases updating the words reduces their eloquence, but the revised language reflects my own voice and heart. I share my efforts with you with the wish that your heart may find in these songs an expression that you wish to pray or sing to God.
He Leadeth Me Original words by Joseph H. Gilmore
(Not to be sung, since the updates change the meter, but to be a conversation with God.)
You lead me: what a wonderful thought! Those words bring me heavenly comfort.
Whatever I do, wherever I am, it is still your hand that leads me.
Sometimes in the middle of deepest sadness and darkness,
Sometimes in joyful places of lush and lovely gardens,
Calmly next to still waters, or tossed by treacherous waves,
Still it’s God’s hand that leads me.
Lord I want to place my hand in yours, not murmuring or complaining;
I want to be content whatever my circumstances, since you are the one who leads me.
When my task on earth is done, and your grace has successfully brought me through,
I will not run from death’s cold wave, since that will only be God leading me across Jordan.
He leads me, he leads me, by his own hand he leads me
I want to be his faithful follower, because he continually leads me
by his strong and loving hand.
“O for a thousand tongues” Original words by Charles Wesley
I wish I had a thousand voices to sing Jesus’s praise,
To sing the glories of my God and King and His powerful loving grace.
My gracious master and my God, help me proclaim the honors of your name to all the nations of the earth.
Jesus! Your name calms our fears, stops our sorrows, is music to our ears,
and brings life and health and peace.
You break the power that forgiven sin has over us. You set us free from sin and shame.
Your death can make even the worst sinner clean, as you did for me.
The deaf can hear you, those who cannot speak can praise you, the blind can see you come to them, and those who could not walk can now jump for joy.