~Lead, Kindly Light
John Henry Newman was converted at the age of fifteen and became
filled with a sense of the nearness of God, a feeling which remained
with him all his life.
The writer was a clergyman of the Church of England, who was
greatly distressed by politics in the English Church.
He felt that things were going wrong, and he was torn by the
feeling that he himself ought to do something. It was his prayer for
God’s leading in his perplexity.
from poor health, he grew better
and set off across the Mediterranean from Marseilles.
It was on this voyage, on June 15, 1833, that he wrote our hymn,
“Lead Kindly Light.”
struggle through which he passed, prior to entering into God’s
restfulness suggested by this hymn, is described by other verses,
written a little earlier—
was I shrank from what was right,
fear of what was wrong;
would not brave the sacred fight,
the foe was strong.
now I cast that finer sense
sorer shame aside;
dread of sin was insolence,
aim at Heaven was pride.
when my Saviour calls, I rise,
calmly do my best;
to Him, with silent eyes,
hope and fear the rest.
step, I mount, where he has led;
count my haltings o’er;—
know them; yet, though self I dread,
love his precept more.
(1) Lead, kindly Light, amid th'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.
(2) 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.
(3) So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on,
O'er moor and fen, o'er crag and torrent till
The night is gone;
And with the morn those angel faces smile,
I have loved long since, and lost awhile.