Saturday, February 7, 2009

For Getting Your Sunday (or any day) On

There is just something about a good poem. I've read a few, and some just don't grab me like others. The good ones stand out, but aren't always so easy to find.

I have a book. Basically it's for writing quotes, thoughts, words, songs, poems, lists, websites and whatever the heck else I want in. You probably have one, too. My friend Kjersti calls her's her 'blank book'. It's a good name.

Anyway, I came across a poem in the 'blank book' that struck me. The words are familiar. I've heard them hundreds of times, but I've never really read them. They became more awesome to me when I did, and I thought you might like to read them, too.

Lead, kindly Light, amid 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 pray'd 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 pow'r 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 morning
those angel faces smile,
which I have loved long since,
and lost awhile!

These words were written in 1833 by the Roman Catholic (now Venerable) John Henry Newman. While on a trip to Italy, he became very sick and was also stranded because there was no ship to take him back to England. Of the experience he said, "Before starting from my inn, I sat down on my bed and began to sob bitterly. My servant, who had acted as my nurse, asked what ailed me. I could only answer, "I have a work to do in England." I was aching to get home, yet for want of a vessel I was kept at Palermo for three weeks. I began to visit the churches, and they calmed my impatience, though I did not attend any services. At last I got off in an orange boat, bound for Marseilles. We were becalmed for a whole week in the Straits of Bonifacio, and it was there that I wrote the lines, Lead, Kindly Light, which have since become so well known."

In addition, it is said that this song was being sung by soloist Marion Wright or that the orchestra was playing it as the Titanic sank and the life boats were being loaded.
If you would like to hear the song being sung, here you go (the flutist at 1:06 looks like my mom):

I have also heard, or read, rather, that this was one of Ghandi's favorite hymns.


Kaylynn said...

I love this song, what a great Sunday Post!

Kjersti said...

I think it's interesting that sometimes you have to take a step back and re-examine the songs we've been singing since we were little to understand how awesome they really are. That's how it is for me, anyway. I know this song, but seeing the words printed made me look at it a whole new way.

Abby said...

I know, Kjersti, that's what I thought was so interesting to me, too. When I read them I was like, WOW! I am so impressed by this. Not that it's not great as a song, but I don't think I really appreciated it before, I guess.

I also think it's so fun to learn more about why the words were written, how it came to be a song, who likes it, and it's place in history.

I think I take the hymns for granted a lot of the time.

Mellanee said...

This has long been one of my favorite hymns. #1 is How Great Thou Art. Though you will have to remember this for a really long time (probably about 30 or so years) I would like both of these sung at my funeral. Thanks for a really sweet Sunday.
Love you,

Kimba said...

This is my favorite hymn! Gives me the chills. Or The Tears.

My favorite thing to do during the sacrament is read hymns. I think sometimes we sing the words without paying attention to their meaning.

The Bauers said...

I love this song as well.... totally got the chills! Great post

Liv said...

First- this song has been stuck in my head since I read your post. THANK YOU! It's so nice.

Second- I get my modest ideas for landscaping from books!! Kelly Sansom (I think you know her?) gave me some great advice as well. My yard is a piece-o-crap so I'm basically just concerned with GRASS. I actually bought a Utah-specific book at the grocery store which shows how to plan out gardens based on lawn size and which direction your plot faces. So... yeah. Books. To the library!

tom, lisa, jack, and lucy said...

Thanks for the background info on this one.. I love hearing that stuff too. Plus it kinda makes me feel like I had Relief Society music appreciation time right in the middle of my week. I'll give a big AMEN to everybody else's comments that I love the reminder to step back and really read the hymns... it makes such a difference.

And, that's an interesting little tid-bit about Ghandi... pretty sure he's one of us now!

Anonymous said...

I just cried... just a little bit.

Tanya said...

all time favorite hymn! love it!