Sunday, February 12, 2017

Peace In The Valley/Take My Hand Precious Lord- Thomas A. Dorsey


               Stone Mountain from the air, amazing to see this from the airplane, I recognize all the roads and parking lots too!


At Christmas, I told you that the best selling Christmas album in the USA is the one by Elvis Presley from 1957.  On that album, he had several gospel songs, two of them were "Peace In The Valley" and "Take My Hand Precious Lord".  (Elvis must have really liked these songs: they were both on his first gospel album that he had released earlier in 1957.)  Wanting to know who might have written these songs, I looked it up.  I was surprised to find that one man is the writer of both songs: Thomas A. Dorsey.

Thomas A. Dorsey was born in Villa Rica, Georgia in 1899, the son of a minister.   He left for Chicago as part of the Great Migration. Playing piano in the blues clubs in Chicago, he returned to his roots and wrote and performed gospel music. He is considered the "father of black Gospel music".  Combining elements of the blues along with traditional Christian praise was such an unusual pairing that his songs became known as "dorseys".
The story behind the song, "Take My Hand Precious Lord" is heartbreaking. Thomas Dorsey's wife died in childbirth. Two days later, the baby, a son, also died.  Thomas Dorsey was performing in St. Louis at the time and received a telegram. Expecting to receive happy news of a birth, he had the devastating  news of two deaths.  He sat down at a piano and began playing a tune, a tune that just came to him, and the words came easily too,  "like drops from heaven", as he described it.


Precious Lord, take my hand
Lead me on, let me stand
I'm tired, I'm weak, I'm 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 linger near
When my light 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

Precious Lord, take my hand
Lead me on, let me stand
I'm tired, I'm weak, I'm lone
Through the storm, through the night
Lead me on to the light
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home
(Lead me home)

Songwriter: THOMAS A. DORSEY






If you would like to read more about Thomas A. Dorsey, I have a link for you just here and also here. 
Thomas Dorsey lived a long, full life, remarrying and raising a family. He wrote over 3000 songs.  He called himself blessed.

NOTE:  If you ask people if they know this name, they might think of the name of the big band leader, Tommy Dorsey. Similar names but not the same!  Please let us remember the name - Thomas Andrew Dorsey.
(Meaning to write of this since December, I have recently met two different men with the surname of Dorsey at my job. Something was telling me I needed to write this post. Has that ever happened to you?)

31 comments:

  1. I thought you were talking about Tommy Dorsey too. What a terribly sad story. It gives such pathos and a true understanding of faith to the song.

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    1. I wonder how many others look at the name and think it is the bandleader/composer Tommy Dorsey. It's the reason I like to blog, it makes me search things out so I can share them here!

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  3. So much of the best poetry (for that's what that is) come to writers at times of great emotion and sadness is, of course, one of the most potent of these emotions.

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    1. Great emotion brings forth the best poetry, I agree.

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  4. Beautiful tribute. I did not know of this man. His deep sorrow produced such beautiful, strong words of faith and love.

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    1. Thanks, I was amazed that I only just learned of this after researching the songs from the Elvis Christmas album.

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  5. I didn't realize there were two Dorsey's that were song writers. I continue to learn something new every day. I love both of those songs.

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    1. I try to learn something new every day too! x

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  6. I didn't realize both those songs were written by the same man. I can remember hearing the voices soar in church as we sang those songs. Sadly, we don't hear many of the old hymns anymore. I found so much comfort in them at different times in my life. xo Diana

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    1. I much prefer the old hymns. I know the contemporary stuff with drums is what is popular but I like the old songs the best. I need melody!

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  7. I have always loved that hymn, thanks for the background info.

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  8. Thank you for sharing this post. I've always been moved by that hymn and now even more so.

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  9. The best hymns come from the most heartfelt places, often the most despairing places, in the abyss.

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    1. I think I would like to write a book about the writers of hymns or gospel songs, I find all the stories very interesting.

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  10. Such a sad story. I suppose some of the greatest works of art are born of sorrow.

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    1. I was glad to have the man himself singing and talking of this song.

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  11. That is so interesting that you would write about this. Our praise and worship team sang the Selah version of this song a few weeks ago and I was googling the lyrics and saw that he had written these. I have that Elvis album. I need to get it out and play it.

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    1. Did you know the story behind it? I didn't, I only learned of it recently and wanted to share it here.

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  12. Thank you for telling us about Mr Dorsey - the "other" Mr Dorsey!
    I love the air photo. Isn't it great to fly over familiar land? So far, I've only once been so lucky to cross my hometown on the way back from England on a big passenger plane, but of course I have seen my area from above a few times from the tiny planes my pilot friend sometimes takes me up in the air with.

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    1. I was thrilled to see Stone Mountain from the air! It was very cloudy but suddenly the clouds parted just enough for me to get a hazy view of Stone Mountain!

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  13. Precious Lord brings back a memory of my late grandmother playing it on the piano at her home in Macon, Georgia.

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    1. That is a lovely memory! I lived in Forsyth when I was about 10 years old, we went to Macon when we lived there!

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  14. That is a heartbreaking origin for a song. He poured his heart out and created something beautiful. He sounds like quite an amazing man, and I'm glad he was able to raise a family and enjoy success despite his hardships and loss.

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    1. I so much agree, didn't he just sound like the nicest guy, one that you wish you could have met and known? He was a very well loved and respected man from all I have read about him.

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  15. Deep sorrow expressed by an artist because that is how he dealt with emotion, through art. I am glad that he life went on and he remarried, had a family, created more music.

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    1. Through the creation of art, it is most important!

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  16. Too many works of art come from a place of sorrow.
    Amalia
    xo

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    1. Artists are to be admired and respected.
      x

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