Text: African American Spiritual. Tune: African American Spiritual, arranged by Moses Hogan (1957-2003)
1 I want Jesus to walk with me. I want Jesus to walk with me. All along my pilgrim journey, Lord, I want Jesus to walk with me.
2 In my trials, Lord, walk with me. In my trials, Lord, walk with me. When my heart is almost breaking, Lord, I want Jesus to walk with me.
3 When I’m in trouble, Lord, walk with me. When I’m in trouble, Lord, walk with me. When my head is bowed in sorrow, Lord, I want Jesus to walk with me.
Lent is a time when we speak of our walk with the Lord. Sometimes we call it our Lenten journey, but the emphasis is on the wrong syllable there to me. It is not our journey, it is with the Lord as we follow along and contemplate what he has done for us and accept his gift of salvation. While we will suffer for our faith as we take up our cross, that is not what we are to focus on. What these contemplations should bring us to is an understanding and acceptance of our dire need. Jesus does not want us to feel sorry for him, but to feel sorry for our sins.
We, like the disciples, watch with horror from the sidelines. After Gethsemane the disciples have fled and we only see Peter and Judas, neither of whom acquit themselves very well. Jesus also rebukes the daughters of Jerusalem who are weeping along side him. The Roman church observes it as the Eighth Station of the Cross, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed! Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us, and to the hills, Cover us.’ For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
My sense that we are living in apocalyptic times responds to this language. What is Jesus talking about? It often does seem like things are falling apart. But Jesus tells us we need to look into our own hearts and see what is there. What he is doing now does not require our pity, but our repentance.
There are so many ways we can go wrong on this story. Do we feel good because we are sorry for Jesus and the way they are treating him? It has a way of putting us outside of the story. We need to admit that we are in it big time. He says, look into your own hearts. We are the reason for his suffering and death.
For our Bible study group, which is studying Matthew 4:1-11 this week, I have been rereading The Grand Inquisitor from Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov, one of the great novels of all time. If you remember it, it tells the story of Jesus returning while the Grand Inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition is trying to rub out heresy. He sees that Christ is the worst heretic of all because he gave us freedom when he resisted Satan’s temptations. For that he wants to burn him at the stake. He thinks it unchristian of Christ not to have agreed to feed everyone, (turn the stones to bread) or prove by miracles that God exists (fall from the highest mountain and expect the angels to save him), or take control of the government and give universal happiness. Our freedom is too much, the Grand Inquisitor thinks. It causes suffering. For Christian reasons, the Grand Inquisitor wants to kill Christ. It's shocking.
Suffering is a mark of the Christian life. Jesus tells us we must take up our cross and follow him. Would we want it any other way? I don't think so. But in our suffering, trials and troubles, we can pray to Christ to walk with us through the valley of the shadow, as per Psalm 23, not walk it for us. He walks with us through our tribulations; he does not take over; he wants us to live an abundant life, freed from the power of sin and death. He died so we can live life to the full, in all its sorrows and joys. We are not robots. He wants us to choose life and live!
Once again, we know little about this text or tune. It is less a demand that Christ do something for the singer, than a cry from the heart that he is needed. That puts the emphasis on the right syllable. Moses Hogan has arranged it. Hogan was born in New Orleans to a musical family and by the age of nine was impressing people with his gifts as a pianist. He studied at music Xavier University Junior School of Music. From there he went to the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, then to Juliard and later to Vienna to study classical music. He started a choir and established the Moses Hogan Chorale and began arranging music for choirs. He died of a brain tumor when he was only forty-five. A great loss.
Fisk Jubilee Singers/featuring Ruby Amanfu
Alex Boye and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir arranged by Moses Hogan
Eric Bibbs https://youtu.be/WvCCRr_Kyx0
Noah Stewart with Adventist Vocal Ensemble/Songs of Praise BBC
Fountainview Academy https://youtu.be/TO1a6yiAdrM
Benediction College Choir with arrangement by Moses Hogan https://youtu.be/I4oSN44RM98