Let the Lower Lights Be Burning
Born in 1838, Philip P. Bliss faithfully served God from the time of his conversion at age 12 until he was called from this life in December of 1876. Bliss filled many roles in his years, working at sawmills and logging camps as a youth, then later serving as teacher, composer, lyricist, husband, and father. Bliss’ words and music continue to echo throughout the United States of America and the world, despite the lengthy years which have transpired since his pen last touched paper. Though he died at the age of 38, he accomplished much for Christ, laying up great eternal treasure on high. May we not be lulled into complacency by the bloom of youth or the illusion of unpromised years stretching before us. Let us follow Bliss’ example of fervent faithfulness while life is yet preserved in us.
“Let the Lower Lights be Burning” is an oft sung and much-loved hymn for which Bliss wrote both the music and the lyrics. Many a heart has been stirred to greater evangelistic service upon meditating and reflecting on these lines. From the historical account found in Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual songs, we read:
First appearing in The Charm, the earliest of Bliss’ collections, in 1871, the message of these lines was inspired by an illustration used by Dwight L. Moody in his evangelistic campaigns. As the musician for the campaign, Bliss authored and composed the song.
On a dark, stormy night, when the waves rolled like mountains and not a star was to be seen, a boat, rocking and plunging, neared the Cleveland harbor.
“Are you sure this is Cleveland?” asked the Captain, seeing only light from the lighthouse.
“Quite sure, sir,” replied the pilot.
“Where are the lower lights?”
“Gone out, sir!”
“Can you make the harbor?”
“We must, or perish, sir.”
With a strong hand and a brave heart, the old pilot turned the wheel, But alas, in the darkness he missed the channel, and, with a crash upon the rocks, the boat was slivered and many a life lost in a watery grave.
“Brethren,” concluded Mr. Moody,
“the Master will take care of the great lighthouse. Let us keep the lower lights burning.”
"Brightly beams our Father’s mercy
From his lighthouse evermore;
But to us he gives the keeping
Of the lights along the shore.
Send a gleam across the wave;
Some poor fainting, struggling seaman
You may rescue, you may save.
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-tost,
Trying now to make the harbour
In the darkness, may be lost."
Philip P. Bliss
“Melody Publications is an organization focused on reawakening the melody of truth in the hearts and minds of believers at home and abroad. Our prayer is that our work would aid churches and families as they sing “Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs” in praise and in worship to our God.”"Let the Lower Lights Be Burning" from Acapeldridge