Pastor Joseph Gilmore intended to speak on the 23rd Psalm during a Wednesday evening service at the First Baptist Church in Philadelphia. As he reflected on that Psalm, the words “He leadeth me” kept coming to his mind. “He leadeth me beside the still waters” (Psalm 23:2). “He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness” (Psalm 23:3).
“He leadeth me.” After the Wednesday evening service, Pastor Gilmore went to Deacon Watson’s home for refreshments and pleasant conversation. While there, the words, “He leadeth me,” continued to come to his mind. He took out paper and pen and quickly jotted the words to the hymn that we know and love. He handed the paper to his wife, and quickly forgot about it.
Without consulting him, his wife submitted his verse to a publication called Watchman and Reflector. They published it without his knowledge.
Several years later, Gilmore was preaching at a church in Rochester, New York, so he pulled out a hymnal to see what they would be singing. The hymnal opened to the hymn, “He Leadeth Me” — his own hymn. He said of the incident, “That was the first time I knew that my hymn had found a place among the songs of the church.”
During his lifetime, Gilmore wrote several other hymns, but only this hymn, “He Leadeth Me,” became well known and widely sung. We can be thankful that God led Pastor Gilmore to write it, and we can be thankful that God led his wife to submit it for publication.
— Copyright 2006, Richard Niell Donovan