“Let us Keep the Lower Lights Burning”

Hymn #335 “Brightly Beams our Fathers Mercy” is a well known hymn in the church, especially by the priesthood. But many don’t know its origin. When understood this story takes on a much more profound meaning.

Philip Paul Bliss, a 19th century American composer was directing the singing for a series of services being conducted by Dwight L. Moody, a well-known preacher. As Reverend Moody closed his message, he told the story of a captain who was attempting to bring his boat to the Cleveland harbor on a very dark and stormy night.

The waves rolled like mountains, Moody stated, and not a star was to be seen in the clouded sky. Moody painted a picture to the congregation of a boat rocking on the violent waves while the ship’s captain peered through the darkness for the sight of a signal light by means of which to guide his vessel to safety. When he finally spotted a single light from the light-house, the captain turned to the pilot and asked:

“Are you sure this is Cleveland harbor?”

“Quite sure, sir,” the pilot replied.

“Then where are the lower lights?” the captain continued.

“Gone out, sir,” the other man answered.

“Can you make the harbor?” the captain asked anxiously.

“We must, or perish, sir,” the pilot replied.

But despite the captain and pilot’s brave hearts and steady hands, in the darkness the ship missed the channel. With a resounding crash the boat piled up on the rocks and then settled slowly to a watery grave.

As the congregation listened intently, Moody concluded with this admonition:

“Brethren, the Master will take care of the great light-house; let us keep the lower lights burning.”

That was all Philip Paul Bliss needed to pen one of his most popular hymns, “Let the Lower Lights Be Burning.”

Hymn #335

Hymn #335 on lds.org

1. Brightly beams our Father’s mercy
From his lighthouse evermore,
But to us he gives the keeping
Of the lights along the shore.

[Chorus]
Let the lower lights be burning;
Send a gleam across the wave.
Some poor fainting, struggling seaman
You may rescue, you may save.

2. Dark the night of sin has settled;
Loud the angry billows roar.
Eager eyes are watching, longing,
For the lights along the shore.

3. Trim your feeble lamp, my brother;
Some poor sailor, tempest-tossed,
Trying now to make the harbor,
In the darkness may be lost.

Text and music: Philip Paul Bliss, 1838–1876
Doctrine and Covenants 18:10–16
1 John 2:10

Often the lower lights are simply the lights in the homes along the shore. In the LDS Bible dictionary under temple it states:

“A temple is literally a house of the Lord, a holy sanctuary in which sacred ceremonies and ordinances of the gospel are performed by and for the living and also in behalf of the dead. A place where the Lord may come, it is the most holy of any place of worship on the earth. Only the home can compare with the temple in sacredness.”

We must keep our homes sacred so they may be the lower lights in our lives.

I pray we may always be the lower lights for our brothers and sisters in and out of the Gospel, so that no one may be tossed to the spiritual rocks of life.

QUESTION: What is the new missionary verse to “Because I Have Been Given Much?”

The other day I received the following question via the LDSFriends contact form:

“On my way to church today I heard the song ‘Because I have been given much’ on the BYU-I radio station and there was an additional verse with something about because I have been called I too must serve, or something along those lines, really pertaining to going on a mission. Does anyone know the words to that verse? I would love to have them.”

I hadn’t heard that there was a new verse, but apparently there is (though, I am not sure if it is apocryphal or Church sanctioned). Here it is:

“Because I have been blessed Dear Lord, I too must serve.
I’ll leave the comfort of my home to teach Thy word.
I’ll find Thy sheep who’ve gone astray, and those who’ve never known the way,
I’ll make Thy work, my work today.
I shall give love to those in need
I’ll show that love by words and deed.
Thus shall my thanks be thanks indeed.”

“This Is The New Year” by Ian Axel

I stumbled across this music video a couple days ago and fell in love with it. To my knowledge the singer is not Mormon, but the lyrics have a really good message for the upcoming new year. And as Joseph Smith said, “If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things” (13th Article of Faith).

Have A Great 2010!
Update: See Lyrics below

YouTube Preview Image

UPDATE 01/07/2008

I received numerous request for the lyrics of Ian Axel’s song. So, a quick google search garnered the below lyrics. Hope it satisfies everyone’s curiosity! ~Paul W.

Ian Axel – This is The New Year

Another year you made a promise
another chance to turn it all around
and do not save this for tomorow
embrace the past and you can live for now
and I will give the world to you

Speak louder that the words before you
and give them meaning no one else has found
The role we play is so important
we are the voices of the undergroud
and I would give the world to you

Say everything you’ve always wanted,
be not afraid of who you really are,
cause in the end we have each other,
and thats at least one thing worth living for,
and I would give the world to you

A million suns that shine upon me
A million eyes you are the brightest blue
Lets tear the walls down that divide us
and build a statue strong enough for two,

I pass it back to you
and I will wait for you,
cause I would give the world
and I would give the world
and I would give the world to you

This is the new year
A new begining
You made a promise
You are the brightest
We are the voices
This is the new year
We are the voices
This is the new year