PODCAST: God Will Take Care of You (History Behind the Hymns #6 with Daniel Whyte III)

Welcome to the History Behind the Hymns podcast. This is episode #6

I am your host, Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International. I am one of many Christians who still loves the old hymns of the faith even more than many modern Christian songs. For the past 33 years, my wife and children and I have sung the old hymns during our family devotion time. Over the years we have used an Independent Baptist hymn book, a National Baptist hymn book, and a Southern Baptist hymn book to sing the old hymns of the faith. And we have sung the old hymns of the faith with traditional Methodist churches online. The old hymns of the faith have been a tremendous source of blessing and encouragement to my heart down through the years. The purpose of this podcast is to encourage you to dust off your old hymn book and experience the power and blessing of well-written hymns based upon sound doctrine for the glory of God that will strengthen your faith.

The History Behind the Hymns passage of Scripture is Philippians 4:19 which reads: “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

The History Behind the Hymns quote for today is from Witness Lee. He said: “The practice of speaking hymns in the meetings, with Christ as the center and with the exercise of the spirit, refreshes, nourishes, edifies, and builds up the church.”

The quote in connection to today’s hymn is from Philip Yancey. He said: “A God wise enough to create me and the world I live in is wise enough to watch out for me.”

Our hymn for today is “God Will Take Care of You” by Civilla D. Martin. It reads:

Be not dismayed whate’er betide,
God will take care of you;
Beneath His wings of love abide,
God will take care of you.

Through days of toil when heart doth fail,
God will take care of you;
When dangers fierce your path assail,
God will take care of you.

All you may need He will provide,
God will take care of you;
Nothing you ask will be denied,
God will take care of you.

No matter what may be the test,
God will take care of you;
Lean, weary one, upon His breast,
God will take care of you.

God will take care of you,
Through every day, o’er all the way;
He will take care of you,
God will take care of you.

Now here is the history behind the hymn, “God Will Take Care of You”. According to Umcdiscipleship.org:

Civilla Durfee Martin was born in Nova Scotia and died in Atlanta, Georgia. Martin was the daughter of James N. and Irene Harding Holden. She was a schoolteacher with a modest musical training. She and her husband, Walter Stillman Martin , often wrote gospel songs for revival meetings. “God Will Take Care of You” is an example of their collaboration.

Walter Stillman Martin was a Baptist minister who received his education at Harvard. He later became a member of the Disciples of Christ, teaching at Atlantic Christian College (Now Barton College) in Wilson, North Carolina, and, before moving to Atlanta in 1919, a location that became the base for revivals that he held throughout the United States.

Civilla Martin also penned the text of “His Eye Is On the Sparrow”, set to music by the well-known gospel song composer Charles Gabriel, and made famous by Ethel Waters in the play “The Member of the Wedding” and later as a part of the Billy Graham Crusades. Another hymn by the Martins, “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power”, seems to have inspired Andraé Crouch and his composition by the same name in 1962.

“God Will Take Care of You” has its own power, however, and is known throughout the world. Hymnologist Kenneth Osbeck describes the background of the hymn’s composition:

“It was composed while the Martins were spending several weeks as guests at the Practical Bible Training School at Lestershire, New York, where Mr. Martin was involved in helping the president of the school, John A. Davis, prepare a songbook. The Reverend W. Stillman Martin, a well-known Baptist evangelist, was invited to preach at a church some distance from the Bible school. That Sunday morning, Mrs. Martin became suddenly ill, making it impossible for her to accompany her husband to his speaking engagement. Mr. Martin seriously considered cancelling his speaking assignment, since it would be needful for him to be gone from her for a considerable time. Just then, however, their young son spoke up and said, ‘Father, don’t you think that if God wants you to preach today, He will take care of Mother while you are away?’”

Walter Martin preached that Sunday and returned that evening to find his wife much improved. In fact, while he had been gone, she prepared a new text that was inspired by their son’s statement just before her husband left that morning. Before retiring to bed that evening, Walter wrote the music to his wife’s text. Civilla Martin describes the composition:

“‘God will take care of you’ was written on Sunday afternoon while my husband went to a preaching appointment. When he returned, I gave the words to him. He immediately sat down to his little Bilhorn organ and wrote the music. That evening, he and two of the teachers sang the completed song. It was then printed in the songbook he was compiling for the school.”

That songbook appears to have been Songs of Redemption and Praise, compiled by Walter Martin and the President of the school, John Davis.

While Mrs. Martin may have been inspired by her son’s observation on that Sunday morning, it is quite possible that she was also aware of other texts with the phrase “God will take care of you” as well. Gospel hymn writer Fanny Crosby had written a text with music composed by musical evangelist Ira D. Sankey. This composition appeared in 1890, fourteen years before the Martins composed their song. Then, British hymn writer Frances Ridley Havergal also composed a text that began with the same line. The complete first line of this hymn, “God will take care of you all thro’ the day,” bears a striking resemblance to Martin’s refrain, “God will take care of you, Thru every day . . ..”

Though the hymns by Fanny Crosby and Frances Havergal may have been familiar to Civilla Martin’s, her composition is distinct. All of them may have been inspired by a common passage of Scripture, I Peter 5:7: “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you”. Furthermore, writers of gospel song texts often borrowed phrases from one another as starting points for their own work. Like so many songs from this genre, the key phrase “God will take care of you” and its variant, “He will take care of you,” are sung often. In this case, if you sang all four stanzas and the refrain, you would sing the title twenty times!

In our next episode we will look at the history behind the hymn, “Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior” by Fanny J. Crosby.

Let’s Pray —

Dear friend, this hymn honors God and the Lord Jesus Christ, if you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, and you want to get to know Him today here’s how.

First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Pray and ask Him to come into your heart and He will.

May God bless you and keep you until we meet again.