O Master, Let Me Walk with Thee: Washington Gladden (1836-1918) wrote a personal hymn of devotion to Christian service which is included in practically every American hymnal. Yet in his day Gladden was widely known as a leader in the movement to proclaim the social gospel—the application of Christian teaching to the problems of society. His main place of ministry was at First Congregational Church in Columbus, Ohio where he was pastor for over thirty-six years.
Gladden believed God was present in human affairs and that the gospel was relevant to critical issues of the day. He preached each Sunday morning and evening. On Mondays, the Ohio State Journal reprinted his sermons on the first page. In Columbus, he led in establishing two settlement houses: Gladden Community House and the Godman Guild. Gladden worked for national reforms that gave his era of the early 20th century its character. He earned the friendship of Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, William Jennings Bryant, Jane Addams, among many others.
Although Gladden never completed a theological degree, he received thirty-five honorary doctorates and lectured at a number of prestigious universities including Notre Dame, Yale, Oxford, and Harvard. He wrote sixty-six books and pamphlets—all using a quill pen. Today Gladden is primarily remembered as author of the hymn, O Master, Let Me Walk with Thee.
Harry Eskew has been a teacher of hymnology for his entire adult life. An active member of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada and a former editor of its journal The Hymn, with Hugh McElrath he wrote Sing with Understanding: An Introduction to Christian Hymnology. Read full bio at singwithunderstanding.com.