The phrase is used to mean lend a hand (as my intuition told me), but it is also used to mean intervene (as fate). It is also used to mean put one's hands on (to pick up, for example) or hold another's hand. One could almost say you can use the phrase any way you want to. :wink:
From a Google search:
- His customary costume is of holland. When on duty he wears an exaggerated bib, and “Jimmy” without his bib would be as little conceivable as “Jimmy” without his smile. He may discard it when he puts on his sky-blue pyjamas for the night, but that he smiles in his sleep is sure. The honourable wrinkles on his mahogany-hued face forbid him to relax the appearance of unceasing good-humour, and who would suggest that his serenity is artificial?
When he takes a hand with the whole of the ship’s company to get up sail or hoist the dinghy on board, he whistles as well as smiles, and then the black boys laugh, and life on the trim ship is more buoyant than ever. He goes down into the doll’s-house galley backwards, smiling.
(From Tropic Days, by EJ Banfield (chapter30))
- Scene 10: The day of the funeral. Heaven takes a hand with heavy rain which threatens both procession and outdoor opera. Opera troupe has arrived but can't rehearse outdoors.
- SUMMARY From Edison films catalog: Shows tap room of the "Miners Arms," stout lady at the bar, and three men playing stud horse. Old toper with a silk hat asleep by the stove. Rough miner enters, bar maid serves him with Red Eye Whiskey and he proceeds to clean out the place. Barmaid takes a hand with a siphon of vichy, and bounces the intruder, with the help of the card players, who line up before the bar and take copious drinks on the house.
- "Not for a long time, Nyola, not for-- Damn!"
Occult cursed as he melted into yet another hurried scene
in this montage of magick. He tried to control it, but
knew that destiny at times even takes a hand with newly
cosmic creatures like himself. He stood amongst trees
now, hearing voices he had not heard in nearly two
- "and Mike takes a hand with Cody" (Man holding up a dog)
- "After the speeches are given, the voma, the vow hearer, rises and takes a hand
with both (he becomes the connection between the two, they are not yet married ... "
(He takes their hands in his.)