Trust and Obey

Full Text

1 When we walk with the Lord
in the light of his word,
what a glory he sheds on our way!
While we do his good will,
he abides with us still,
and with all who will trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there's no other way
to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

2 Not a burden we bear,
not a sorrow we share,
but our toil he doth richly repay;
not a grief or a loss,
not a frown or a cross,
but is blest if we trust and obey. [Refrain]

3 But we never can prove
the delights of his love
until all on the altar we lay;
for the favor he shows,
for the joy he bestows,
are for them who will trust and obey. [Refrain]

4 Then in fellowship sweet
we will sit at his feet,
or we'll walk by his side in the way;
what he says we will do,
where he sends we will go;
never fear, only trust and obey. [Refrain]

United Methodist HymnalM, 1989

Author: John H. Sammis

(no biographical information available about John H. Sammis.) Go to person page >


Scripture References:
st. 1 = 1 John 5:2-3, Prov.16:20
st. 2 = Ex. 19:5

Daniel B. Towner, composer of the tune, writes about the origins of this well-known gospel hymn:

Mr. Moody [Dwight L.] was conducting a series of meetings in Brockton, Massachusetts [presumably in 1886] and I had the pleasure of singing for him there. One night a young man rose in a testimony meeting and said, "I am not quite sure-but I am going to trust, and I am going to obey." I just jotted that sentence down, and sent it with the little story to the Rev. John H. Sammis, a Presbyterian minister. He wrote the hymn, and the tune was born.
-Ira D. Sankey, The Story of the Gospel Hymns, 1906

John Henry Sammis (b. Brooklyn, NY, 1846; d. Los Angeles, CA, 1919) wrote the chorus lines first and then the five stanzas, after which Towner composed the tune. The hymn was published in Hymns Old and New (1887). Because of its use in the Dwight L. Moody and Ira D. Sankey crusades and its printing in Sankey hymnals, "When We Walk with the Lord" became widely known.

The refrain provides the text's theme: trust and obey the Lord (Prov. 16:20). The three stanzas develop this theme: we show our trust by walking with God in accord with his Word and with total commitment to his will for our lives.

Sammis was a successful businessman in Logansport, Indiana, and active as a Christian layman. His volunteer work for the YMCA eventually led to a change of career. He studied at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois, graduated from Lane Theological Seminary, and was ordained in the Presbyterian Church in 1880. He served congregations in Glidden, Iowa; Indianapolis, Indiana; Grand Haven, Michigan; Red Wing, Minnesota; and Sullivan, Indiana. From 1909 until his death he was a teacher at the Bible Institute of Los Angeles.

Liturgical Use:
With Scripture reading before or after the sermon; on various occasions of worship as a hymn of encouragement, commitment and dedication, and testimony.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook, 1987



One of the sturdiest of the some two thousand tunes Daniel Brink Towner (b. Rome, PA, 1850; d. Longwood, MO, 1919) composed, TRUST AND OBEY is also among the most popular. It is cast in the verse-refrain form typical of gospel hymns. Sing in harmony throughout. Though the use of a fermata in the re…

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