Literary Lorenzo Snow #14: Be Thou My Strength

CAWelch-aloneWhat do we mean when we talk about help from God? Our religion, and lesson 14 in the Lorenzo Snow manual, teaches us that we should rely on God for the help. Yet when we think about how this help actually works, it isn’t about God doing things for us, at least not usually, its about the guidance and strength that he gives us so that we can do what needs to be done ourselves.

That is the strength that is described in the following poem.

The author is likely Charles A. Welch (not H. as the source indicates). Born in 1860 in Salt Lake, Welch married twice, first to Mary Hinckley in 1883 and again in 1939 to Abbie Otto following the death of his first wife. He served LDS missions to the Southern States, the Northeastern States and to England, and was one of the colonizers of the Big Horn, Wyoming basin. He later served as patriarch to the Big Horn Stake and in 1940 published a history of the Big Horn basin.


Be Thou My Strength

by Charles H. Welch

O Master, shall I come to thee,
And be forever thine?
Shall I behold thy blessed face,
And hear thy voice divine?
Be thou my Shepherd and my Strength,
To guide my feet each day;
And may thy Spirit ever teach
The straight and narrow way.


I do not ask to miss the snares
That in my pathway lie;
To have no thorns to prick my feet,
My weary soul to try.
I only ask that thou wilt be
My Strength, my Shield, my Friend;
That thou wilt guide my erring feet,
In safety to the end.


Improvement Era, v22 n2, December, 1918


Doctrinally, I think it is crucial that, as Welch indicates in first line of the poem, we “come to [Him],” in order to seek and obtain His help.  The humility and faith implied by coming to Him is vital to success.

I like that Welch divides the help we get from God in three:

I only ask that thou wilt be
My Strength, my Shield, my Friend;

The first, “Strength,” we need to be able to overcome obstacles. With the second, “Shield,” we defend ourselves from attacks, and His friendship gives us His compassion and commiseration. All of these are needed, and cover, I think, the principle ways that God helps us.

2 comments for “Literary Lorenzo Snow #14: Be Thou My Strength

  1. Sonny
    July 21, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    We are perhaps a little behind in the lessons and I am teaching this today. Thanks for the thoughts and the poem, Kent. I will be incorporating it in my lesson.

  2. July 21, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    Great, Sonny. I’m glad it works for the lesson.

    I was surprised today when it was used in the priesthood meeting I visited today. I felt validated!

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