Washington Gladden was a controversial 19th century clergyman of the Congregational Church — a preacher unafraid of a good fight. For a period of time, he served as editor of the New York Independentnewspaper, and his editorials were credited with starting the investigation that sent the notorious Boss Tweed to jail.
Gladden was especially interested in labor disputes, and got involved in a number of strikes — not to encourage them, but to negotiate peaceful settlements.
He sparked controversy when he opposed the acceptance of a $100,000 donation to his denomination by John D. Rockefeller — “Tainted money,” he called it, because of Rockefeller’s business policies.
But there has been no controversy associated with Gladden’s hymn, “O Master, Let Me Walk with Thee.” This hymn expresses in simple language what we all feel — a need to walk with God — to feel God’s presence — to have God guide us — to have God help us through the tough struggles of life. It is a hymn, but it is also a prayer. It asks God to give us a “winning word of love” that will make a difference in someone’s life. It asks God to give us patience — and hope — and peace. It then concludes by asking, “With Thee, O Master, let me live.”
–– Copyright 2007, Richard Niell Donovan