“Be With Me Lord” lyrics were by Thomas O. Chisholm and Lloyd O. Sanderson. The song has a date of 1935. It is in 18.104.22.168 meter which means the first major phrase is 11 syllables, the second major phrase is 10 syllables, then the pattern repeats until the end. The two men collaborated a few songs, even though they lived about 1,000 miles apart. The hymn had the music (by Sanderson) before the lyrics (by Chisholm). Other songs they did together include: “A New Creature,” “All Things Work Together For Good,” and “Bring Christ Your Broken Live.”
Thomas Obadiah Chisholm (1866-1960), Lyricist
Thomas Obadiah Chisholm was born July 29, 1866, in Franklin, Kentucky in a log cabin. He learned fast and was quickly moved into the position of educating others at the age of 16. He was on the staff of the local newspaper, the Franklin Favorite. He was converted to Methodism by Henry Clay Morrison. He served as a preacher for one year; however, his constitution was not suited for the demands of the position so he resigned. He wrote some 1200 songs with an estimated 800 set to music. Chisholm married Katherine Hambright Vandervere in 1903, and they had two daughters. His wife passed away in 1954. Chisholm eventually retired and lived the remainder of his days at the Methodist Home for the Aged in Ocean Grove, New Jersey. He passed away on February 29, 1960, in Ocean Grove and was buried next to his wife in Saint Thomas Episcopal Church Cemetery in Whitemarsh, Pennsylvania.
Lloyd Otis Sanderson (1901-1992), Lyricist
L. O. Sanderson was born May 18, 1901, near Jonesboro, Arkansas. His father was a singing teacher who was reared in a home where instruments were forbidden. So Sanderson’s father made sure that instruments were prominent in their home including the piano, organ, guitar, and others. He was taught much about music both from his father and mother. He was brought up in the Methodist Church; however, he became a Christian in 1922. He had to give up his position as church choir director of the Methodist Church but was hired to teach music by J. N. Armstrong at Harper Christian College which would eventually lead to his teaching at Harding College. On August 29, 1927, he married Rena Raye Woodring. In 1935 he worked as Business Manager for the Gospel Advocate in Nashville, TN where he also taught at David Lipscomb College. With the death of John T. Hinds in 1938, he served as interim editor of the Gospel Advocate until B. C. Goodpasture took over the Editorship in 1939. He continued as the Music Editor for the Gospel Advocate for some time but decided to resign in 1942 to devote his efforts to full-time church work. He was acquainted with many familiar names in the brotherhood: N.B. Hardeman, G.C. Brewer, Horace Busby, Foy E. Wallace, Roy Cogdill, F.B. Srygley, B.C. Goodpasture, S.H. Hall, E.M. Borden, C.R. Nichol, M.S. Mason, A.G. Freed, H.A. Dixon, E.A. Elam, H. Leo Boles, and others. He was also familiar with other popular songwriters: E. L. Jorgenson, William W. Slater, and Tillitt S. Teddlie. Some report that he also used a pseudonym, Vana R. Raye, based on his wife’s name. He also published hymnbooks including Church Hymns I, II, III. His wife died in a serious car accident in August 15, 1984, which left Sanderson crippled. They were crossing the street after Wednesday Night Bible Study and were hit by a car. They had lost their daughter to cancer a few days prior to the accident. Sanderson remarried to Vesta Stowe Sanderson in 1988. Lloyd Sanderson died January 17, 1992, and is buried by his first wife Rena in Memorial Park Cemetery in Memphis, TN.
Be With Me, Lord
When Satan tempted Jesus, as recorded in Matthew 4 and Luke 4, he brought out his three favorite weapons: lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. These were his three weapons of choice with Eve in the Garden of Eden, and Satan has been having great success with these three weapons. Mankind falls for it all the time because we are vulnerable, and God knows this too which is why Jesus came to be our Advocate, Defender, and Champion!
One of the temptations Satan issue was because he knew Jesus was vulnerable because of His humanity: “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, ‘If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.’ But He answered and said, ‘It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’’” (Matthew 4:1–4 NKJV). It was written in Deuteronomy 8:3. Jesus quoted the OT Scriptures to defeat Satan. Think about that for a moment.
We cannot live without food for long. Surviving 40 days under such conditions is certainly rare, but not impossible. Remember, Jesus was trained in carpentry, and this was certainly not easy work! He was possibly a builder/repairer of fishing boats. He might have worked construction in the major city building project in the area of Nazareth. He was not a weakling! Still, Jesus’ emphasis was not on the lack of food, but how the provision of food was no substitute for His relationship with God.
Some say Christianity is a “crutch,” but who is going to save your soul when your physical body is decaying it the grave? As we sing the beautiful words to this wonderful hymn, think about the wonderful promise: “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5–6 NKJV). These are some of the words Moses gave to the people as he was turning over the leadership to Joshua. The Lord does not forsake His people: “lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20 NKJV). When all else, or everyone else, fails; the Lord never fails! Do not give up on the Lord but sing “Be With Me Lord!”
Maxie B. Boren, Editor, Hymns and Songs We Sing, Fort Worth, TX: Brown Trail Church of Christ, 2002.
George C. Finely, Editor, Our Garden of Song – A Biography of Song Writers of the Church of Christ and Articles and Other Items of Interest of Our Worship in Song, West Monroe, LA: Howard Publishing Company, 1980.
“Thomas Chisholm.” No Pages. Cited 23 February 2018. Online: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Chisholm_(song_writer).
“Thomas Chisholm.” No Pages. Cited 23 February 2018. Online: http://nethymnal.org/bio/c/h/i/chisholm_to.htm.
“Thomas Chisholm.” No Pages. Cited 23 February 2018. Online: http://www.hymnary.org/person/Chisholm_Thomas.
“Thomas Chisholm.” No Pages. Cited 23 February 2018. Online: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/43600909/thomas-obadiah-chisholm#.
V. E. Howard, Editor, and Broadus E. Smith, Associate Editor, Church Gospel Songs & Hymns, Texarkana, TX: Central Printers & Publishers, 1983.
“L. O. Sanderson.” No Pages. Cited 27 January 2019. Online: http://www.hymntime.com/tch/bio/s/a/n/sanderson_lo.htm
“L. O. Sanderson.” No Pages. Cited 27 January 2019. Online: http://www.therestorationmovement.com/sanderson.htm.
John P. Wiegand, Editor, Praise for the Lord, Nashville, TN: Praise Press, 1997.