“Trust and Obey.” Many sermons have been based on this three-word phrase which is also used as a hymn title. Then, the singing of the hymn at the end of the sermon usually follows. The impact that those three words have on people is so strong that many worshippers continue humming the refrain while heading home. Doing such would somehow lead them to imbibe the song’s theme. And accordingly, they are on their way to experiencing the rewards of trusting God’s words and obeying His will. As what Jesus said,
If anyone loves me, he’ll keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him (John 14:22).
The Hymn’s Writing Story
Many gospel songs were based on several Scripture passages and supplemented by personal reflections. In the case of this hymn “Trust and Obey,” there were no clear indications relative to its Biblical basis. However, the story that serves as the hymn’s main basis was clearly recognized. Such was documented by Ira D. Sankey on his biography, My Life and the Story of the Gospel Hymns. Sankey is a musical partner of Dwight L. Moody. During one of Moody’s revivals in 1886, Daniel B. Towner, who composed the hymn’s music, served as the music leader. He’s also the one who shared the following notes from Sankey:
“Mr. Moody was conducting a series of meetings in Brockton, Massachusetts, 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.’”
Sankey has noted down the man’s statement and later sent it to the Rev. J. H. Sammis, a Presbyterian minister. He wrote the lyrics and Towner later provided the music. The hymn then was born. It was believed that Sammis wrote the lines of the refrain after receiving the letter.
Trust and obey—for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
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Daniel B. Towner, Dwight L. Moody, Ira D. Sankey, Rev. John H. Sammis, Trust and Obey