Lean on Me

Our new blog is named for the Joseph’s House anthem: Lean on Me by Bill Withers.
It was over 20 years ago when we first played Lean on Me at the end of a memorial service in the living room at Joseph’s House. After saying the Serenity Prayer and The Lord’s Prayer, everyone put their arms around each and stood in a close circle, the volume was turned way up and we sang and wept with these lyrics:

Lester service (1)Sometimes in our lives
We all have pain, we all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there’s always tomorrow

Lean on me when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need somebody to lean on

Please, swallow your pride
If I have faith you need to borrow
For no one can fill those of your needs
That you won’t let show

You just call on me, brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you’ll understand
We all need somebody to lean on…

Over time we changed one of the “brother” lines to “sister” to include us all. Hundreds of times we have sung this song – sometimes soft and sweet like a prayer – but the best of times we’ve sung it loud; clapping and dancing, leaning into the beat of this song of songs for those who stand ready to be called upon, ready to share the load, to loan a friend a little faith, offer a strong shoulder to lean on. Knowing all the while that our turn to ‘need somebody to lean on’ is coming. For some of us it’s already here.

This is how we do it at Joseph’s House – we lend strength while we can and when our own time comes, we lean on our brothers and our sisters.Kosovo's Tragedy

Never were words better written for the way we experience living and dying and being together at Joseph’s House than the lyrics of  Lean on Me.

We hope you’ll come back to this post and to this blog and that you’ll bring your own stories of love and hope.

Lean on Me from Joseph’s House on Vimeo.


  1. Lois Wagner says

    Thank you for this beautiful website and using this name. Yesterday I was playing “Lean on Me” and telling someone that it was the theme song at Joseph’s House. She asked me “Did JH really live out the words in that song?” I responded “Oh yes, sometimes more perfectly than others. But, I was always inspired as I saw those who were so very wounded themselves reaching out and being with their brothers and sisters who were hurting and dying. And I was also a recipient many times of encouragement and support from residents and staff.” This song always keeps me reminded of our interconnectedness–to be able to support when we can, stand beside when we can and lean when we need to. So, thank you and Blessings in this new endeavor.

    • Patty Wudel says

      Hello, Lois,
      I too am lifted up every time I hear Lean on Me, particularly when we sing it together, literally leaning on each other, at the end of a memorial service at Joseph’s House. Do you remember when this song was first played and whose idea it was? I remember Whitney Houston’s I Believe I Can Fly also being played often in the early days. Sending love across the miles.

  2. I have so many special memories singing this song at Joseph’s House. I miss you all and think of you all often.

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