Rita Young Allen, MA, MS

Take My Hand Precious Lord














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*SAY YOU SAW IT IN THE MESSENGER*

Page 46 – February 4, 2004

Just a Quick Note from…..Rita Allen

Dear Friends,

            After wading through and deleting the masses of ridiculous emails, the following one not only caught my attention, but my heart, and I think it will yours too.

            In a message dated 10/6/2003, J.S. Nunnelly writes:  You might be surprised by the composer, I was.  One never knows from another profession whether they are a Christian or not.  This is a sad, but true story.  I looked up the song and sure enough, it WAS written by said composer...the Birth of the Song “Precious Lord.”

            Back in 1932, I was 32 years old and a fairly new husband.  My wife, Nettie, and I were living in a little apartment on Chicago’s Southside.  One hot August afternoon I had to go to St. Louis, where I was to be the featured soloist at a large revival meeting.  I didn’t want to go.  Nettie was in the last month of pregnancy with our first child.   But a lot of people were expecting me in St. Louis.  I kissed Nettie good-bye, clattered downstairs to our Model A and, in a fresh Lake Michigan breeze, chugged out of Chicago on Route 66.  However, outside the city, I discovered that in my anxiety at leaving, I had forgotten my music case.  I wheeled around and headed back.  I found Nettie sleeping peacefully.  I hesitated by her bed; something was strongly telling me to stay.  But eager to get on my way, and not wanting to disturb Nettie, I shrugged off the feeling and quietly slipped out of the room with my music.

            The next night, in the steaming St. Louis Heat, the crowd called on me to sing again, again, and again.  When I finally sat down, a messenger boy ran up with a Western Union telegram.  I ripped open the envelope.  Pasted on the yellow sheet were the words:  YOUR WIFE JUST DIED.  People were happily singing and clapping around me, but I could hardly keep from crying out.  I rushed to a phone and called home.  All I could hear on the other end was “Nettie is dead.  Nettie is dead.”

            When I got back, I learned that Nettie had given birth to a boy.  I swung between grief and joy.  Yet that night, the baby died.  I buried Nettie and our little boy together, in the same casket.  Then I fell apart.  For days I closeted myself.  I felt that God had done me an injustice…I didn’t want to serve Him anymore or write gospel songs.  I just wanted to go back to the jazz world I once knew so well.  But then as I hunched alone in that dark apartment those first sad days, I thought back to the afternoon I went to St. Louis, something kept telling me to stay with Nettie.  Was that something God?  Oh, if I had paid more attention to Him that day, I would have stayed and been with Nettie when she died.  From that moment on I vowed to listen more closely to Him.  But still I was lost in grief.

            Everyone was kind to me, especially a friend, Professor Fry, who seemed to know what I needed.  On the following Saturday evening he took me up to Malone’s Poro College, a neighborhood music school.  It was quiet; the late evening sun crept through the curtained windows.  I sat down at the piano, and my hands began to browse over the keys.  Something happened to me then.  I felt at peace.  I felt as though I could reach out and touch God.  I found myself playing a melody, once into my head, it just seemed to fall in place…“Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, let me stand.  I am tired, I am weak, I am worn.  Through the storm, through the night, lead me on to the light.  Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.”  The Lord gave me those words and melody.  He also healed my spirit.  I learned that when we are in our deepest grief, when we feel farthest from God, this is when He is closest, and when we are most open to His restoring power.  And so I go on living for God willingly and joyfully, until that day comes when He will take me and gently lead me home.   ~Tommy Dorsey

























































































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Keynote Speaking Professional / Concert Soloist / Published Author

Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (Concentration in Counseling) from Jacksonville State University. Master of Science in Management Leadership (Healthcare Administration) from Troy University.

Bachelor of Science in Sociology, Minor in Music from Jacksonville State University.

Associate of Science in Music Education, Vocal Performance
with attendance to Snead State College, Gadsden State College, and Wallace State College.

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