Who doesn’t know “Just a Closer Walk With Thee”?
The composer is anonymous, unknown, but this classic piece of Southern gospel, now in the public domain, belongs to our culture, our tradition.
Anybody can record it without having to give credit. One of my favorites is by Willie Nelson and Patsy Cline, who team up for a fine rendition.
Now I’m not suggesting Willie has the finest voice in the choir, but, no doubt about it, he can sing a song!
A young church musician in a small Presbyterian Church in southeastern North Carolina I visited on a recent Sunday played an arrangement of this classic for offertory music during the 11 a.m. worship service.
Using a song like this was pleasing and was an effective part of the worship experience, for even though no one was singing, the words sounded in my head, creating some very special and personal moments of prayer and worship.
Of course, his arrangement rang true to the musical traditions of Southern gospel, not exactly a “high church” sound, but surprise, surprise, this song is included in the relatively new hymnbook of the Presbyterian Church USA.
A few decades ago, such beautiful and even spiritually uplifting songs like it, might have been shunned by mainline Protestant churches. In recent years, however, even some stiff-upper-lip churches have begun to include gospel and contemporary music as well as African-American spirituals in their hymnbooks and worship.
Even the great 150-voice choir at Duke Chapel, that great Gothic cathedral on the campus at Duke University, has in its repertoire such African-American spirituals as “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord,” “Deep River” and “There is a Balm in Gilead.”
Thanks to that young church musician for sharing his fine musical talents in worship and in case someone might be passing through a patch of feeling vulnerable, here are the words.
I am weak, but Thou art strong;
Jesus, keep me from all wrong;
I’ll be satisfied as long
As I walk, let me walk close to Thee.
Just a closer walk with Thee,
Grant it, Jesus, is my plea,
Daily walking close to Thee,
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.
Through this world of toil and snares,
If I falter, Lord, who cares?
Who with me my burden shares?
None but Thee, dear Lord, none but Thee.
When my feeble life is o’er,
Time for me will be no more;
Guide me gently, safely o’er
To Thy kingdom shore, to Thy shore.
Terrell’s Creek Missionary Baptist Church, 3419 Old Greensboro Road, will hold its annual homecoming and revival servicesSunday and Wednesday through Friday nights.
Guest homecoming speaker at 3 p.m. Sunday is the Rev. Gregory Webb of St. Matthew Baptist Church in Oxford. Dinner will be served from 1:15 to 2:45 p.m.
Three different preachers, accompanied by the choir and congregation from their churches, will preach for the 7:30 p.m. services Wednesday through Friday.
▪ Wednesday: The Rev. Lavish Williams, pastor of St. Joseph CME Church in Chapel Hill.
▪ Thursday: The Rev. Brian Tolbert Jr., pastor of First Church of God Christian Fellowship in Carrboro.
▪ Friday: Youth night, led by the Rev. Rodney Coleman, pastor of First Baptist Church in Chapel Hill,
The public is invited to all events.
Bishop pro tem
Now that the mix of elation, pride and excitement tinged with sadness that erupted in June when Episcopal Bishop Michael Curry of the Diocese of North Carolina was elected presiding bishop of the national church, diocesan leaders are getting on with business.
This week Suffragen Bishop Anne Hodges-Copple was appointed to serve as bishop pro tem. She will assume those duties after the resignation of Curry and until the election and consecration of a new diocesan bishop.
Curry, the first African-American to be elected presiding bishop, will assume his new role on Nov. 1, when his consecration is set to take place in the Washington National Cathedral.
Hodges-Copple will become the ecclesiastical authority or “chief executive and pastoral officer” on that date and will continue in this position through the search for a new diocesan bishop, a process that typically takes 18 to 24 months.
“This is an extension of my call as Bishop Suffragan as outlined in the canons,” said Hodges-Copple. “I’m honored and excited to take on these responsibilities during this time of transition.”
The passing scene
“No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.”
A Chapel Hill church flies this flag.
That’s Christ’s invitation.
Not an invitation created by a board or a committee or a rector, priest, preacher, minister, bishop, vicar or evangelist to attract “our kind of people” or only educated, well-to-do folks, but to attract any people, all people
Not an invitation filtered through the rule book or through the theological statements of a particular group calling itself Christian, but the kind of invitation Jesus himself might have issued to one of his hillside teaching sessions.
Contact Flo Johnston at email@example.com or call 910-361-4135.