IN THE SPOTLIGHT: “Lead, Kindly Light”

I happened across this hymn while researching Edith Walton Deeds, a Dayton, Ohio legend who donated to the community a carillon tower which was the seed for what is now known as Carillon Historical Park. As the hearse, carrying Mrs. Deeds’ remains to Woodland Cemetery, paused at the Deeds Carillon, the carillonneur played her favorite hymn, “Lead, Kindly Light.”

The British hymn, with lyrics by John Henry Newman and music by John B. Dyke, was also a favorite of Mahatma Gandhi and is mentioned at the Gandhi Museum in Madurai, Tamil Nadu. “Lead, Kindly Light” was sung by a soloist, Marion Wright, on the RMS Titanic during a hymn-singing gathering led by the Rev. Ernest C. Carter, shortly before the ocean liner struck an iceberg on April 14, 1912. The hymn was also sung aboard one of the Titanic’s lifeboats when the rescue ship Carpathia was sighted the following morning. 

Upon my first listen, I was mesmerized by the sumptuous, evocative melody. I fell as much in love with the lyrics. Ironically, I was introduced to this hymn the day before the seventy-fourth anniversary of Mrs. Deeds’ passing.

Lead, Kindly Light, amidst 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.

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!

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,
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile!

Meantime, along the narrow rugged path,
Thyself hast trod,
Lead, Saviour, lead me home in childlike faith,
Home to my God.
To rest forever after earthly strife
In the calm light of everlasting life.

About Wright Flyer Guy

Darin is a single adoptive father, a teacher, playwright, and musical theatre director from Kettering, Ohio.
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