The recording on my phone
from a near and distant day
says only New Recording 3—
not much to go on.

I haven’t heard it in years
since standing in a throng of preachers
inside a packed sanctuary in Minneapolis
singing together a beloved Spiritual 
before the Gospel is to be read.

At first, I struggle to remember –
where is this?
why am I recording this?
what moved me to preserve
these particular moments?

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.

These words,
these timeless words…
oh, how they soothe the soul.
Loved by so many,
they are words that smooth over
the hard edges of this life,
holding us
at least for a time
in the safekeeping of holy love.

As I listen
they do that for me
as they have for generations 
of light-seekers before me.

Then I hear it—
like a songbird
in the early morning air.

The one beside me
singing in that voice that melts me
causing the tears to form
as I listen.

Precious Lord, take my hand…
we sing together
on that near and distant day
when life was not yet changed.

When the darkness appears
and the night draws near,
and the day is past and gone,
at the river I stand, 
guide my feet, hold my hand:
Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.

You’ve taken her hand now.
And you’ve taken mine.
Lead us on
to the light. 
Lead us on
to our home
where holy love dwells.

Mark Lloyd Richardson
August 2022