Charles Wilbert White%2C Courtesy Heritage Gallery

Just a Closer Walk with Thee, 1958

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Walking as a metaphor for spiritual fulfillment is the subject of Just a Closer Walk with Thee, a rare linoleum cut by renowned African American artist Charles White. The print borrows its title from a traditional gospel song (or spirtual) of the Christian faith, a song thought to have originated from southern African American churches of the second half of the nineteenth century. In more recent years, the song has become something of a fixture of popular music, especially among jazz musicians. White’s powerful image of a devout black woman gazing toward heaven, arms outstretched, beseeching Jesus to grant her humble plea to walk beside Him, functions as the visual counterpart to the song’s prayerful lyrics. Though symbolic, the spiritual action of walking with Jesus provides believers with a personally sustaining means to express their faith and devotion.

Just a closer walk with Thee,
Grant it, Jesus, is my plea,
Daily walking close to Thee,
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.
I am weak, but Thou art strong,
Jesus, keep me from all wrong,
I’ll be satisfied as long
As I walk, let me walk close to Thee.
Through this world of toil and snares,
If I falter, Lord, who cares'
Who with me my burden shares'
None but Thee, dear Lord, none but Thee.
When my feeble life is o’er,
Time for me will be no more,
Guide me gently, safely o’er
To Thy kingdom's shore, to Thy shore.

Just a Closer Walk with Thee
Artist Life
1918 - 1979
Accession Number
[Charles M. Young Fine Prints and Drawings, Portland, Conn.]; sold to MIA, 1999.
Curator Approved

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Charles Wilbert White, Courtesy Heritage Gallery