1264) “Where Could I Go But to the Lord?”


   James B. Coats (1901-1961) spent most of his life teaching music in public schools in Mississippi.  For over thirty years he was a deacon in the Baptist church, and later answered a call to the ministry.  He also wrote several Gospel songs including “A Wonderful Place”, “My Soul Shall Live On”, “I’m Winging My Way Back Home”, and “Tomorrow May Mean Goodbye.”  In 1992 J. B. Coats was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.

     In 1940 Coats wrote what was to become his most enduring song, “Where Could I Go But to the Lord.”  The inspiration for the song came some years earlier when Mr. Coats was at the bedside of one of his dying neighbors, an African-American gentleman named Joe Keyes.  Mr. Coats asked Mr. Keyes if he knew where he would spend eternity when he died.  Mr. Keyes simply replied, “Where could I go but to the Lord?”  Some years later Coats included these words in this gospel song.  It has been recorded by Elvis Presley, Emmylou Harris, Bill and Gloria Gaither, and many others (see below).

     The hymn asks a simple, yet profound, question:  Where could I go but to the Lord?  This is an acknowledgement that there is no one that can save us 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 our only ultimate hope is in Jesus.  When we “face the chilling hand of death,” where can we go “but to the Lord”?  (based on a blog by Enid and Austin Bhebe, August 16, 2013 at:  www.austinbhebe.wordpress.com)


John 6:66-68  —  From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.  “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.  Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.”

Acts 4:12  —  Jesus is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’  Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.


“In the midst of life we are in death, of whom may we seek comfort but of Thee, O Lord.”

–From the burial service in the Book of Common Prayer, 1662.



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

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

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

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?  Chorus


For two popular recordings of “Where Could I Go?” go to: