Jesus, Still Lead on (ELW 624, focus on v. 1 & 2)
1 Jesus, still lead on, till our rest be won;
and, although the way be cheerless,
we will follow, calm and fearless;
guide us by your hand to the promised land.
2 If the way be drear, if the foe be near,
let no faithless fears o’ertake us,
let not faith and hope forsake us;
safely past the foe to our home we go.
3 When we seek relief from a long-felt grief,
when temptations come alluring
make us patient and enduring;
show us that bright shore where we weep no more.
4 Jesus, still lead on, till our rest be won;
heav’nly leader, still direct us,
still support, console, protect us,
till we safely stand in the promised land.
This hymn has been a favorite of mine since my seminary internship when I worked in a German heritage congregation in Northwest Iowa. Many of the older members of that congregation remembered this as their Confirmation Hymn, chosen for them by their pastor to guide them through their life as a Christian.
The hymn envisions life in Christ as a journey to a “promised land,” recalling the story of the Exodus and Israel’s wandering in the wilderness for forty years. That was a “cheerless” and “drear” path, filled with hardships and struggles. But God was faithful to them, constantly guiding them with a column of smoke during the day, and a column of fire during the night, and the leadership of Moses to get them to their destination. The hymn asks God to help us hang on to Jesus, as we are led, “safely past the foe” toward the promised land.
Jesus, help us in the middle of all things, to trust that you are still there leading us. Amen.