This Lent we are journeying with the Lord towards Easter, so it seemed fitting to learn a bit about this wonderful praise: Trust and Obey (aka. When we walk with the Lord).
Daniel B. Towner, who wrote the melody to this praise, inherited his gift for and love of music from his father, Professor J. G. Towner, an accomplished vocalist and music teacher. Daniel studied with some of the finest musicians and began his career as worship leader in a Methodist church in Binghamton, New York. In 1885 the evangelist D. L. Moody asked Daniel to join him on his evangelistic missions, so Daniel travelled with him, singing and doing personal work for several years.
He once explained how this praise came to be written.
Mr Moody was conducting a series of meetings in Brockton, Massachusetts, and 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.” I just jotted the sentence down, and sent it with the little story to Rev. J. H. Sammis, a Presbyterian minister.
Sammis wrote a poem based on the phrase “trust and obey,” and sent it back to Towner, who went to work on the music. Apparently, while working on the music, Daniel Towner grew discouraged. He crumpled up the paper and threw the manuscript into the bin. Next morning as his wife was cleaning his office found the manuscript and sang over the words and melody to herself. She left it on the organ and encouragd her husband to work on it some more, telling him, “I feel the melody you have written is just what is needed to carry the message.”
In 1893, Dr. Towner became head of the Music Department of the Moody Bible Institute of Chicago where he trained hundreds of young people to lead worship and minister to the Lord in music. He continued to write the melodies to some much loved praises, compiled fourteen hymn books and wrote several text books.
At the age of 70, while leading singing at a revival meeting, he suffered a seizure and died in the service of the Lord.