Silk Road -- Part 5: When He Walks With Me
Songwriter Julie Gold is a modern day visionary. She might not put it that way, but she does receive regular gifts from God in the form of songs.
I am fortunate to have just recorded my third Julie Gold song, this one for the forth-coming CD, SILK ROAD. The song is called “When He Walks With Me.” It opens the CD in a most transcendent way. That’s because I am fortunate to work regularly and closely with another visionary named Peter Link.
I don’t use the term “visionary” lightly, and it truly does apply to both of these musician/thinkers. Together, through song, lyric, orchestral coloring and arrangement, “When He Walks With Me” becomes a kaleidoscope of prayer, anthem, protest and celebration.
“When He Walks With Me” is an inspirational song, which is right up my alley. What makes this one different, though, is that it’s also an issue song. It’s right there in the trenches grappling with the big world problems of today. The song has its feet planted on terra firma in its expression of hope and healing.
It’s also a love song – between me, and He who walks with me.
I believe it’s the perfect song to open a new album whose themes are sacred and Inspirational, dealing with the issues of our world today and also the personal relationships with those closest to us. So, who is "He" that walks with me in this song? That’s entirely up to interpretation. I give you mine here.
My connection with these lyrics, the first time I heard them was instant and complete:
He walks in the ghetto And the holy land He walks through the garden And across the sand And he walks beside my ally And my enemy And I know that I walk taller When He walks with me …
He walks with the beggar Searching for some bread He sleeps at the station On a concrete bed And I know He has his reasons Whatever they may be And I know that I walk taller When He walks with me
I was reminded immediately of three stories that illustrate who He is to me.
The first was a true story I heard about a murderer. Years ago, a man’s car broke down on a deserted bridge late at night. The television was full of the news of an escaped serial killer on the loose in this same area. The man started across the bridge on foot to get help, when he saw a figure walking toward him who fit the description of the killer. The man was praying as he walked, and the supposed killer passed by him without any threat.
Very soon after, the man heard that the killer had been captured, and it was apparent to him that this prisoner was the same man who had passed him on the bridge that night. The man was so overcome with questions, that he went to the prison to visit the convicted killer. He asked the killer why he didn’t try to kill him on the bridge that night. The killer replied, “Because there were two of you.”
The second story comes straight from the Bible: It’s the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They broke King Nebuchadnezzar’s law in which he decreed that everyone bow down and worship a golden image and pray only to his own personal gods. Confident in their God to deliver them, the three men willingly were cast into a fiery furnace as punishment.
The book of Daniel relates, “24 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. 25 He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God. (Daniel 3: 24, 25)
The third story is my own. When I was still a college student, I flew from California to New York City in the dead cold of winter to do my very first round of auditions. This was my first time in New York. One night I went to the opera, and in order to get back to where I was staying, I had to take a subway going to the very most eastern reaches of Queens where I was staying with friends.
The opera got out so late that I missed the last subway I needed to take. There were no more on that particular route due to schedule changes caused by massive construction in progress. So, I had to get myself to an entirely different line and transfer twice. Not an easy feat for a less then street smart newcomer to NYC. This was all before the age of cell phones; I left a message on a payphone for my friends in Queens.
It was late at night and I was underground, lost in a gigantic maze of construction. It was totally deserted as I walked through narrow corridors and around tight corners. It became exceedingly clear that I was not where I should be, and that I could easily disappear with no trace should I walk into harm’s way.
That was the scenario and I was scared. But instead of staying scared, I started praying with every step I took, surrounding myself with this prayer work as I walked.
As I prayed, hymns began to sing through my head, and I became very calm and peaceful with the sense that I was, in fact, not alone. I began to feel a very present sense of being guided. He was walking with me, leading me, and loving me all the way. I knew it. I felt it. I was no longer scared.
I finally got to a train that was running and I made my transfers. Hours had passed. When I came up to the street level in Queens, one of my friends was waiting for me. He had gone out looking for me and chanced to be at the right subway entrance when I came up.
It wasn’t chance, though, that brought my friend to me. No. He had walked with me, and my friend must have felt or heard Him too.
That night, it was the Christ that walked with me. Some might call it an angel. Others might call it God or the presence of God. Still others might call it Consciousness or the Universe or identify it as the Son of God or perhaps Jesus himself. In her song, Julie Gold calls it He.
Whatever our nuances and definitions of who He is, this song is an affirmation of protection, a prayer of comfort, an anthem of protest, a song of confidence, and a psalm of love. I know I feel all of that When He Walks With Me.
Next up: Silk Road - Part 6: My Body Also... Read a wonderful interview with Julie Gold by Don Silver
When He Walks With MeMusic and Lyrics by Julie Gold
He walks in the ghetto And the holy landHe walks through the garden And across the sandAnd he walks beside my ally And my enemyAnd I know that I walk taller When He walks with me
When He walksBeside meWhen He walks with me
He walks with the beggarSearching for some breadHe sleeps at the stationOn a concrete bedAnd I know He has his reasonsWhatever they may beAnd I know that I walk taller When He walks with me
And He hears the voices risingFrom cities set aflameHe knows the people calling HimBy ev’ry sort of name
And He hears the baby cryingHe hears the old man prayAnd we all will walk togetherOn the judgment day When He walksBeside meWhen He walks with me
He walks with the wardenAnd the captive manEach one is a pris’nerWith an escape planEven though the bad things happen And wherever I might beOh I know that I walk taller When He walks with me
Yes I know that I walk taller When He walks with me
When He walksWhen He walksWhen He walks with me
He walks in the ghetto He walks with the beggarAnd He hears the voices risingWhen He walks with me