LET THE LOWER LIGHTS BE BURNING
Words and Music by Philip P. Bliss, 1838–1876
Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)
I do not ask for mighty words to leave the crowd impressed,
But grant my life may ring so true my neighbors shall be blessed.
I do not ask for influence to sway the multitude;
Give me a “word in season” for the soul in solitude.
The lower lights surrounding a lighthouse guide the boats in the harbor away from the treacherous rocks and into the channel. The interesting analogy in this hymn was suggested to author and composer Philip P. Bliss as he listened to D. L. Moody tell a sermon anecdote about a pilot during a storm.
“Brethren,” concluded Mr. Moody, “the Master will take care of the great lighthouse. Let us keep the lower lights burning.” Bliss, as he often did, immediately put this challenging thought into a hymn. He usually worked rapidly, completing both the text and the music in one sitting.
Bliss first met Dwight L. Moody in Chicago in 1869 and soon joined him and his music associate, Ira Sankey, in their evangelistic campaigns. A prolific composer of gospel hymns, Bliss continued to write and publish until his death at the age of 38 in a tragic train accident at Ashtabula, Ohio, during the Christmas season of 1876. Yet his many songs, including “Jesus Loves Even Me,” “Hold the Fort,” “Hallelujah, What a Savior,” “Wonderful Words of Life,” and many more, still live on today to bless and inspire our lives.
We may not all be powerful lighthouses, such as Mr. Moody, Ira Sankey, or Philip Bliss, but God calls us each to be “lower lights” wherever we are to guide some fainting, struggling person to the eternal haven with deeds that direct all the praise to our heavenly Father.
Brightly beams our Father’s mercy from His lighthouse evermore, but to us He gives the keeping of the lights along the shore.
Dark the night of sin has settled. Loud the angry billows roar; eager eyes are watching, longing for the lights along the shore.
Trim your feeble lamp, my brother! Some poor sailor tempest tossed, trying now to make the harbor, in the darkness may be lost.
Chorus: Let the lower lights be burning! Send a gleam across the wave! Some poor fainting, struggling seaman you may rescue, you may save.
For Today: Daniel 12:3; Matthew 5:1–16; James 5:19, 20
Resolve to keep a gleam burning for Christ by words and actions so that some seeking individual may be directed into a calm and secure relationship with the Lord. Use this musical message as a reminder—