Saturday, 28 March 2015

"Lead, kindly Light, amid th' encircling gloom" Composer: John Henry Newman, 1801-1890


THIS prayer-hymn, cast in high poetic form, was penned by John Henry Newman, afterward a cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church, while on ship board on Sunday, June 16, 1833. It is said that the ship had been compelled to proceed slowly because of the dense fog that encompassed it. Dr. Newman was returning to Marseilles, France, from a visit he had made to Italy. While in Sicily he was taken seriously ill and on his recovery he waited for his ship in Palermo for three weeks. 

Probably both of these facts entered somewhat into the imagery of the hymn, as is evidenced by such phrases as "th' encircling gloom" and "The night is dark, and I am far from home." 

The thought and sentiment of the hymn, however, were wrought out of the mental darkness in which Newman was then groping. Some time before, he wrote this note: "Now in my room in Oriel College, slowly advancing, etc., and led on by God's hand blindly, not knowing whither he is taking me." This darkness, beclouding his faith, had become still deeper during the summer of his Italian journey, during which he wrote "Lead, Kindly Light." But the expression of his supreme trust in God, which shines through these lines, so universally popular, has helped many a soul that has yearned for guidance "amid the encircling gloom." 

0 comments:

Post a Comment