“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth.” Psalm 86:11a
The traditional gospel song, “Just a Closer Walk With Thee” is one of my favorite hymns. When I researched its origin, I was surprised to learn that the author of the words is unknown and the music is anonymous. Circumstantial evidence suggests it dates back to southern African-American churches of the 19th century. It became better known nationally in the 1930s when African-American churches held huge musical conventions.
Recordings of “Just a Closer Walk With Thee” began in the early 1940s. Well-known artists who recorded it include Patsy Cline, Willie Nelson, Elvis, Johnny Cash and Randy Travis.
In 1997 when I was selected as Nebraska Mother of the Year, I planned an ecumenical worship service. Music shared included our two daughters and spouses singing as a quartet, “Just a Closer Walk With Thee.” They began singing the first verse, in a slow tempo:
“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.”
As the refrain began, the tempo accelerated:
“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.”