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—
Osbeck, K. W.
- And they be wise, shall shine, as the brightness of the firmament: and they that turn many to righteousness, shall shine as the stars, forever and ever. Daniel 12:3
- And when he saw the multitude, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which hunger and thirst for righteousenss: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which suffer persecution for righteousness’ sake; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed shall ye be when men revile you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you for my sake, falsely. Rejoice and be glad, for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the Prophets which were before you. Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill, cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your father which is in heaven. Matthew 5:1–16
- Brethren, If any of you hath erred from the truth, and some man hath converted him, Let him know that he which hath converted the sinner from going astray out of his way, shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins. James 5:19-20