Wednesday, November 21, 2012

History of Mormonism Hymns - Lead, Kindly Light

My past post was on the history of Mormonism hymns, more particularly The Spirit of God.  As this post is my 50th and must be special, I will continue on with a history of Mormonism hymns and share the story of my favorite hymn - #97 Lead, Kindly Light.

The Story Behind the Hymn:
John Henry Newman was the man behind the words now know as hymn #97.  In a General Conference address in October 2000, Virginia U. Jensen shared Newman's story as follows:

"As a young priest traveling in Italy in 1833, Englishman John Henry Newman encountered emotional and physical darkness when illness detained him there for several weeks.  He became deeply discouraged, and a nurse who saw his tears asked what troubled him.  All he could reply was that he was sure God had work for him to do in England.  Aching to return home, he finally found passage on a small boat.
"Not long after the ship set sail, thick fog descended and obscured the hazardous cliffs surrounding them.  Trapped for a week in the damp, gray darkness, the ship unable to travel forward or back, Newman pled for his Savior's help as he penned the words we now know as the hymn 'Lead, Kindly Light.'"
- Virginia U. Jensen, Lead Kindly Light -

Words of the Hymn:
Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom; lead thou me on!  The night is dark and I am far from home; lead thou me on!  Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see the distant scene - one step enough for me.
I was not ever thus, nor prayed that thou shouldst lead me on.  I loved to choose and see my path; but now, lead thou me on!  I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears, pride ruled my will.  Remember not past years.
So long thy power hath blest me, sure it still will lead me on over moor and fen, over crag and torrent, till the night is gone.  And with the morn those angel faces smile, which I have loved long since, and lost awhile!

Scriptures Behind the Hymn:
There are many scriptures that could be used as an example to show what is being said in this song, but I'll select only a few.  First and foremost comes to mind John 8:12:

"Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world:  he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."

Shown in both the scripture and the hymn is the statement that Christ is our light.  When we follow him we are not lost.  A second scripture I'll use is found in the Book of Mormon.  This scripture speaks on Christ's power to disperse the darkness of sin and mistakes.  Not physical darkness but spiritual and metaphorical darkness.

"He knew that the dark veil of unbelief was being cast away from his mind, and the light which did light up his mind, which was the light of the glory of God, which was a marvelous light of his goodness - yea, this light had infused such joy into his soul, the cloud of darkness having been dispelled, and that the light of everlasting life was lit up in his soul, yea, he knew that this had overcome his natural frame, and he was carried away in God-" (Alma 19:6)

These are just a couple of the many scriptures that could be used to show Christ as our guiding light.  Just as the song says, so long Christ's power hath blest me, and sure it still will lead me on.  And he will do the same for everyone, even those that feel like they've gone too far from the light.  As was said in the post 'A Joyful Lesson From Alma Jr.,' the end result can always be the same:  Our souls can be filled with joy as exceeding as was our pain.  The light of Christ can reach anyone, and then we can live in the light.

Lead, Kindly Light sheet music: Hymn #97 sheet music
Any questions concerning Mormonism?  Ask a missionary!

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