The American standard “Take My Hand, Precious Lord” has received no shortage of noble ministrations since it was composed, by the Rev. Thomas A. Dorsey, some 80 years ago. Mahalia Jackson and Aretha Franklin are most famously associated with the song, but there are also popular recordings by Elvis Presley, Jim Reeves, Nina Simone and many others, and what they all have in common is a reverential pathos, the suggestion of human frailty in the face of the divine. The song’s second verse cuts to the heart of mortal supplication:
When my way grows drear
Precious Lord linger near
When my life is almost gone
Hear my cry, hear my call
Hold my hand lest I fall
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home
Those lyrics haunted my head as I encountered the instrumental version of “Take My Hand, Precious Lord” that opens Come Sunday, a new Emarcy release from bassist Charlie Haden and pianist Hank Jones. The reasons should be obvious: Jones, who was 91 when the album was recorded, in February of 2010, died just three months later. His passing was widely mourned in the jazz community, especially by those musicians, like Haden, who had counted him among their dearest elders.