The Stories of Our Most Blessed Hymns
September 28, 2023, 1:02 PM

The songs we sing in the darkest nights will be the songs that show the world the unwavering faithfulness of our Father who loves us so much.


By Mike Harland


Tragedy strikes all of us at different times in our lives. For the believer, those hardships inform our faith through the experience of God’s grace at work in our lives. Difficulty is the place we learn the greatest lessons about God’s faithfulness to us.

Paul and Silas found themselves wrongfully imprisoned in the jail in Philippi (Acts 16). The song they sing at midnight changes everything and demonstrates the power of the gospel to impact lives even in the worst of circumstances.

Consider these well-loved hymns—midnight songs, if you will—and the truth we find in the stories of how they were written.

“Wherever He Leads, I’ll Go”

It was 1936 and two friends serving together at a Sunday school conference in Alabama were at lunch, sharing what God was doing in their lives.

One, a missionary to Brazil home on furlough, told the other, a hymn writer leading the music for the conference, that a health issue would keep him from returning to the country he had grown to love. The news, received just days before, had broken his heart.

The hymn writer asked, “What will you do?” And through tears, the missionary, R.S. Jones, told the hymn writer, B.B. McKinney, “Wherever He leads, I’ll go.” McKinney was so moved that he penned the classic hymn that afternoon and sang it that night after Jones had preached, recounts Terry C. Terry, a musicologist who wrote his doctoral dissertation about McKinney. Since then, this song has been sung at invitation times and crusades, revivals and worship services.

We may not always know where He will lead, but we do know we can choose to follow.

The next time we stand at a crossroads of indecision and are asked what we will do, may we have the grace to reply like R.S. Jones and B.B. McKinney, “Wherever He leads, I’ll go.”