I love discovering new-old hymns. There is a lot of fantastic new and inspirational Christian music, but there is something enduring in the hymns of years gone by. Every so often I become acquainted with an old hymn whose poetry touches my heart.
"Brightly Beams Our Father's Mercy" is one I've come across lately.
The words and melody are beautiful, but it was the story behind the song that impressed me. The hymn was written by Philip Paul Bliss after hearing a sermon about the Cleveland harbour.
On dark, stormy nights, although the lighthouse burned bright, it was of great importance that the lower lights of the town along the shoreline be light. Although the lighthouse could guide the boat in the general direction, the lower lights enabled the boats to navigate the rocky channel. The sermon was concluded with this admonishment:
"Brethren, the Master will take care of the great light-house; let us keep the lower lights burning."
And so, the words to this mid-19th century hymn were penned.
Brightly beams our Father's mercy from His lighthouse evermore,
But to us He gives the keeping of the lights along the shore.
Let the lower lights be burning! Send a gleam across the wave!
Some poor fainting, struggling seaman you may rescue, you may save.
(Aside: just as I wrote the title of the hymn above, Colin started singing the song to himself while he is playing! There is much simplicity and beauty in being taught spiritual truths through music.)