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The Birth of The Song “Precious Lord”


Back in 1932, I was 32 years old and a fairly new husband.
My wife, Nettie and I were living in a little apartment on

Chicago’s south side.

One hot August afternoon I had to go to St.Louis where I was to be the featured soloist at a large revival meeting.
I didn’t want to go.
Nettie was in the last month of pregnancy with our first child.
But a lot of people were expecting me in St. Louis.
I kissed Nettie good-bye, clattered downstairs to our Model A and, in a fresh Lake Michigan
breeze, chugged out of Chicago on Route 66.
However, outside the city, I discovered that in my anxiety at leaving, I had forgotten my music case.
I wheeled around and headed back
I found Nettie sleeping peacefully.
I hesitated by her bed; something was strongly telling me to stay.
But eager to get on my way, and not wanting to disturb Nettie, I shrugged off the feeling and
quietly slipped out of the room with my music.
The next night, in the steaming St. Louis heat, the crowd called on me to sing again and again.
When I finally sat down, a messenger boy ran up with a Western Union telegram.
I ripped open the envelope.
Pasted on the yellow sheet were the words: YOUR WIFE JUST DIED.
People were happily singing and clapping around me, but I could hardly keep from crying out.
I rushed to a phone and called home.
All I could hear on the other end was ‘Nettie is dead.
Nettie is dead.’
When I got back, I learned that Nettie had given birth to a boy.
I swung between grief and joy.
Yet that same night, the baby died.
I buried Nettie and our little boy together, in the same casket.
Then I fell apart.
For days I closeted myself.
I felt that God had done me an injustice.
I didn’t want to serve Him anymore or write gospel songs.
I just wanted to go back to that jazz world I once knew so well.
But then, as I hunched alone in that dark apartment those first sad days, I thought
Back to the afternoon I went to St. Louis.
Something kept telling me to stay with Nettie.
Was that something God?
Oh, if I had paid more attention to Him that day, I would have stayed and been with Nettie when she died.
From that moment on I vowed to listen more closely to Him.
But still I was lost in grief.
Everyone was kind to me, especially one friend.
The following Saturday evening he took me up to Malone’s College, a neighborhood music school.
It was quiet; the late evening sun crept through the curtained windows.
I sat down at the piano, and my hands began to browse over the keys.
Something happened to me then.
I felt at peace.
I felt as though I could reach out and touch God.
I found myself playing a melody, once into my head they just seemed to fall into place:

‘Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, let me stand, I am tired, I am weak, I
am worn, through the storm, through the night, lead me on to the light, take my
hand, precious Lord, lead me home.’
The Lord gave me these words and melody,
He also healed my spirit.
I learned that when we are in our deepest grief, when we feel farthest from God, this is when He is closest,
And when we are most open to His restoring power.
And so I go on living for God willingly and joyfully, until that day comes when He will take me and gently lead me home.
Tommy Dorsey
Beautiful, isn’t it? Worth the reading, wasn’t it?
Think on the message for awhile.
Editor’s Footnote: Mr. Dorsey passed on to Glory in 1933; one year after his wife and son.  He was not the Famous band leader as some have said; but he left his mark!


I am a born again believer. I am a Prayer Intercessor, writer, wife, mom, sold out for God lady! I believe that Jesus heals. I also believe that many people need faith information and prayer and this site will offer this.

6 thoughts on “The Birth of The Song “Precious Lord”

  1. I heard this song on March 13,2003 while attending church with my sister.Wandered in the wilderness for about 39 years.Was raised to fear and obey God but we all know what the flesh and the devil will do!!!!

    This song brought me to the Altar and yes to accept the Lord Jesus Christ and asked him into my heart…. I any one has any doubt about the healing power in the name of Jesus Christ…
    It is by His mercy and grace that allowed me to type this in

    God Bless

  2. A very beautiful story indeed, but Dr. Thomas Dorsey died in 1993. he lived 60 more years and had another wife 10years after Nettie died and 2 sons with his 2nd wife. He went on to compose and write and accompany many great Gospel singers, such as Sallie Martin, Rosetta Thorpe and Mahalia Jackson.

  3. Hello…this is not our writing; just a copy. When we originally received this story; it was supposed to be about Tommie Dorsey the famous bandleader. After careful research, we found the original article to be untrue. At that point, we removed the erroneous information. That is a writer’s responsibility. We were unable to verify the additional information that you have sent. If you can send proof of what you’re say…we’ll print it.

    In the meantime, here is what Snopes says:

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