Hymn of the Week

by Jeff Mowery

Where Could I Go

Living below in this old sinful world
Hardly a comfort can afford
Striving alone to face temptations sore
Where could I go but to the Lord?

Where could I go,  where could I go?
Seeking a refuge for my soul
Needing a friend to help me in the end
Where could I go but to the Lord?

Neighbors are kind, I love them everyone
We get along in sweet accord
But when my soul needs manna from above,
Where could I go but to the Lord?

Life here is grand with friends I love so dear
Comfort I get from God’s own Word
Yet when I face the chilling hand of death
Where could I go but to the Lord?

Written in 1940, this particular song has been performed by artists like Elvis, Emmylou Harris, Merle Haggard, and the Gaither Vocal Band.  What I like about this particular hymn is that it asks a simple, yet profound, question – Where could I go but to the Lord?  The phrasing of this particular question communicates a couple of different things to me.  The first thing I get from this phrase is “I have no other option but going to the Lord.”  This is a mindset that God, and only God, can help me in difficult times in my life.  It is an acknowledgement that there is no one that can help but God.  Sometimes we lean on doctors, family, friends, the Church, or our finances to get us through, and all of those things can be tools God uses to help us through difficult times.  But the reality is there is no other option for us to take our problems to but to Him.

The second thing this phrase communicates to me is the fact that going to the Lord is a privilege.  Not everyone could enter the Temple courts.  There were certain rules for Jews and Gentiles, or for men and for women, restricting their access to the Temple.  Not everyone could enter certain parts of the Temple or the synagogues in the Old Testament.  And only priests could enter the Holy of Holies.  The word “could” communicates to me that going to the Lord is a privilege that came as a result of Christ’s death on the cross and that as believers, and as God’s children, we can boldly approach the throne.

This song, however, could have been written with just a minor word change and the meaning would be completely different.  These changes, unfortunately, may be more reflective of how we actually live our lives sometimes:

“Where did I go?”  I think this question comes from the perspective of looking back on one’s life.  This question deals with our actions versus our intentions.  Our goal may have been to “cast our cares on the Lord,” but the reality was we didn’t do it.  We may have wanted to “take our burden to the Lord and leave it there.”  But the reality was we worried and held a tight grip on our burdens.  We told everyone who would listen to our cries and complaints.  We might have put our burden down for awhile, but then we picked it right back up again.  We may have wanted to go to the Lord, but the fact was we didn’t.  I view this as a statement of regret.
“Where should I go?”  This question deals with what is sometimes called “head knowledge” versus “heart knowledge.”  It is the “should have, would have, could have” mindset.  We know what to do, but we don’t practice it.  We know where to go, but don’t go there.  We have memorized certain scriptures and know how we should respond in difficult times from a Biblical perspective, but our practice is a far cry from our intentions.  This, too, is a sad state of mind because we chose not to follow, not from ignorance of God’s Word, but out of fear or a lack of trust in Him.
“Where would I go?’  This question almost comes from a state of desperation.  This mindset lives as if one has no hope and has no one to turn to.  It is almost as if nobody cares, and one has no where to turn.  I hope that we as believers reflect to an unsaved world that we have the answer.  No, not arrogantly proud because the answer is not our own wisdom, but that we know a God who cares and who loves.  A God who knows the number of hairs on our head and who knows our rising up and our going down.  If He sees the sparrow fall to the ground, how much more is He concerned about man – creatures created in His own image!!

So, where are you going today?  No, I’m not talking about going to work, or on vacation, or to the grocery store.  Where are you taking your problems and concerns today?  I hope you can echo the words of another old chorus we used to sing growing up “I go to the Rock of my salvation.  I go to the stone that the builder’s rejected.  I run to the mountain and the mountain stands by me.  The earth all around is sinking sand.  On Christ the solid rock I stand.  When I need a shelter, when I need a friend, I go to the Rock.”  There is no other place we can go…or should go.

  1. 9/26/2012 | 9:51 am Permalink

    Recalled this old hymn about 2 wks ago and started singing during my devotional time. Has stayed with me daily for past 2wks. Particularly comforting as I face my beloved sister-in-laws unexpected death Sat. and funeral tomorrow. God generously recalls a song frequently for me to keep me going. Could I have copy of lyrics, please?

  2. 8/27/2012 | 5:57 pm Permalink

    I just ran across your site. I noticed that you had scanned “Where Could I Go” for a person. I have been looking for this song, music and lyrics. for months. If it is not to much trouble could you send me a copy.


    • 8/28/2012 | 8:52 am Permalink

      I emailed a copy this morning. Let me know if you need anything else. So glad to help.

  3. 6/4/2012 | 8:45 pm Permalink

    I just stumbled across this site and saw that you had offered to send someone a copy of “where could I go but to the Lord” from a hymnal. Is that offer still open? If so could you send me a copy


    • 6/4/2012 | 8:55 pm Permalink

      I would be happy to. I will scan in tomorrow and send to you

  4. 4/27/2012 | 6:16 pm Permalink

    Dear Jeff,
    To your knowledge has this song every appeared in a hymnal? Thanks,

    • 4/27/2012 | 7:09 pm Permalink

      It has. It is in the Red-back Hymnal (aka Church Hymnal published by Tennessee Music and Printing Company) and still available today. I also found it in “Melodies of Praise” published by the Gospel Publishing house in 1957 and in “Sacred Selections for the Church” published by Sacred Selections in Kendallville Indiana. If you would like me to email you a copy from the Hymnal, I would be happy to. Just let me know. Thanks for visiting “Hymn of the week” website.

  5. 8/4/2010 | 7:38 pm Permalink

    I used to hear a crippled man sing this at my church when I was growing up… I knew if he knew where to go… then maybe I should go there too!