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In The Musical Spotlight: Women Hymnists

In celebration of Women's History Month, I will be featuring a different female hymnist each week in March. Last Sunday, our sending hymn was "Lord Take My Hand And Lead Me" written by Julie Hausmann. Born on March 7th, 1826, her father was a teacher and she had five sisters. She led a life of quiet devotion, writing poems throughout. She worked as a governess but suffered from migraines and had to leave. She then took care of her father until his death in 1864. She spent the rest of her life living with her sisters. Julie Hausmann published a book of devotions, Hausbrat, but when she was approached by Gustav Kent to publish her poetry, she agreed with certain conditions. First, she wanted it published anonymously and the proceeds to go to charity.

Before she was a governess, Julie was engaged to missionary. She went to visit him but when she arrived, she found out he had died from illness. It is rumored that the hymn "Lord Take My Hand And Lead Me" was written as a result. Whether this is the case or not, the text of this hymn is beautiful in its simplicity yet it is also rich in strength. The lyrics are beautiful when sung but can also stand alone as a prayer. The first stanza begins by asking for guidance but continues by calling for God's protection and strength as the song progresses into the second and third stanzas. The simple yet strong words are set to similarly written music. The form is A A B A1, with the A melody simple to sing and beautifully winding up and down the scale. Then the ascending motif build in the third line adds drama before resuming the whimsical melody of the first two lines for the end. It is a beautiful hymn that has lasted 150 years yet still resounds today.

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