“And Wing My Words”


When Katrina and I started our pastoral work at Harris Memorial Church in rural Greeneville, Tennessee, I badly wanted to teach as well as preach (still do). I recall going through Paul’s letters to Timothy and noting that the word “teach” occurred forty-four times while the word “preach” occurred four times; and I worked hard to develop some courses in subjects like Old Testament Survey so I could have something to say from the lecturn as well as from the pulpit.

Along with two or three other pastors, we started a little Bible Institute at a church on the main highway. My students probably knew more than I did, but I found great joy in lecturing through the materials I had furrowed out. After each evening’s classes, I drove home amid the darkness of the county roads, and I listened to a cassette tape – the same tape over and over. I wish I still had it. The singers were Robert Hale and Dean Wilder, and the album was “Break Forth and Sing.”

One hymn etched its message into my mind so powerfully it has become a recurring prayer for most of four decades – the Frances Havergal hymn, “Lord, Speak to Me.”

Unfortunately, in most hymnbooks, the musical score for “Lord, Speak to Me,” is Canonbury, which, in my opinion, diminishes the words. Hale and Wilder had a totally different and much superior tune, and I can still hear it in the sound studio of my memory.

I no longer have the Hale and Wilder recording, but it’ll never go out of my mind. How often through the years, while preparing to preach and teach, have I switched on my mental cassette and sang along in what has been the guiding prayer of my ministry.

Note especially the poignant final stanza, “O use me, Lord, use even me….”

PS – If you’re seeing this in my blog post, the picture above is Frances Havergal, one of our most original hymnodists and devotional writers.

Lord, speak to me that I may speak

In living echoes of Thy tone;

As Thou has sought, so let me seek,

Thine erring children lost and lone.

O teach me, Lord, that I may teach

The precious things Thou dost impart;

And wing my words that they may reach

The hidden depths of many a heart.

O fill me with Thy fullness, Lord,

Until my very heart overflow

In kindling thought and glowing word,

Thy love to tell, Thy praise to show.

O use me, Lord, use even me,

Just as Thou wilt, and when, and where,

Until Thy blessed face I see,

Thy rest, Thy joy, Thy glory share.