William Williams (1717-1791)

 •  2 min. read  •  grade level: 6
Methodist (Calvinistic)
Hymns #276, Appendix 42.
William Williams was born in 1717 in a lonely farmhouse at a place named Cefncyoed, Carmarthenshire, Wales. One writer says (1950), “The house is still standing, a low-lying stone building in an open field some distance from the highway.”
When he was twenty years of age and about to take a medical course, he learned about the preaching of a man named Howell Harris. He wanted to satisfy his curiosity and went on a Lord’s day morning and found Harris in a churchyard preaching to people as they came out from the regular service. He stood in the graveyard on a flat tombstone. Harris was a twenty-four year old Methodist preacher and the word spoken reached Williams’ heart and conscience. It was said of him, “His conviction of sin was deep and alarming, but the subsequent joy proportionately high.”
So instead of medicine for the body he dispensed healing for the soul by preaching the gospel. His labors were ardent and incessant for about half a century. He is best known for his hymn, “Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah.” It will be of interest to our readers if we quote this verse in the original Welsh language in which it was written:
“Arglwydd, arwain trwy’r anialwch
Fi, bererin qwael ei wedd,
Nad oes ynof nerth na byoryd,
Fel yn gor wedd yn y bedd.
Ydyw’r un a’m cwyd i’r lan.”
When we sing #276 we sound forth these words:
“Guide us, O Thou gracious Savior,
Pilgrims through this barren land;
We are weak, but Thou art mighty;
Hold us with Thy powerful hand.
Bread of heaven,
Feed us now and evermore.”
He died on January 11, 1791 at the same place where he was born. Though his speech failed him before his home-going, he gave signs to show his happy state of soul and that the prayer of his hymn, “Guide me,” had its fulfillment to the end.
“In Thy presence we are happy;
In Thy presence we’re secure;
In Thy presence all afflictions
We can easily endure;
In Thy presence we can conquer,
We can suffer, we can die.
Wandering from Thee, we are feeble.
Let Thy love, Lord, keep us nigh.”
(Appendix #42)