Guide me, O thou great Redeemer,
Pilgrim though this barren land;
I am weak, but thou art mighty;
Hold me with thy powerful hand;
Bread of heaven,
Feed me now and evermore.
Musing on a hymn that’s been part of the British tradition for 250 years, that has been in royal weddings and funerals and national sporting occasions… It’s the picture of Moses and the Jewish nation travelling across the desert.
But it’s intensely personal. It’s a picture of me, a pilgrim on my journey, through the desert of my life. I need guidance, because I don’t always know the correct path, I need bread to feed me and water to refresh me; I need strength and protection as I travel.
Open now the crystal fountain,
Whence the healing stream doth flow;
Let the fiery cloudy pillar
Lead me all my journey through;
Be thou still my Strength and Shield.
Above all it’s about a God who is there for me as Redeemer and Deliverer, as the guide who gives me direction through fire and cloud when I’m lost or uncertain, who is strong for me when I’m weak, providing the physical, mental and spiritual resources I need, protecting me from seen and unseen danger.
The final picture is of crossing the Jordan, the end of the journey, facing the final river of death without fear. And in my Promised Land this God will be the one who I shall praise and thank for his guidance and provision.
This hymn is so much more than a traditional treasure, It’s a personal statement of my faith, of my journey of life thus far, of where I stand today, and how I face an unseen, unknown future with confidence and assurance.
When I tread the verge of Jordan,
Bid my anxious fears subside;
Bear me through the swelling current,
Land me safe on Canaan’s side;
Songs of praises,
I will ever give to thee.