Praying as I Read a Hymn

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, February 16, 2015

snowy woods with sun

Praying as I Read a Hymn

Ever read the verses of a hymn and find yourself struck by the vivid imagery? Or amazed by the descriptive words used by the lyricist? Today’s prayer suggestion wanted me to read through a hymn composed by Cardinal Newman in the mid 1800’s, “Lead, Kindly Light.”

This is not my first time reading the words to hymns in prayer. A number of times I read the words of lyricist Isaac Watts and his brilliant paraphrases of Scripture, some years ago. I was struck by how, with the smallest turn of phrase, Watts could make the words of the Bible come to life. So many hymns of the 1700’s and 1800’s have words that hit me in the core of my being; make me lift my voice in praise, or cover my face in fear. (Unlike simplistic lyrics of certain praise songs today . . . but I digress.)

“Lead, Kindly Light.” I immediately could relate to the first verse! “The night is dark, and I am far from home.” That brought me into the experience of the lyricist. I knew what it was like to be wandering in the midst of a dark night. I, too, trod on dark paths, a long distance from my safe, warm bed.

The last verse, as is true with so many hymn lyrics, talks about coming home. Yet, this home Newman speaks of is not our earthly home, but home to heaven. And, I can easily think of myself as a child, especially in the arms of my loving, caring Heavenly Parent. Being carried close and led by the hand. I can remember doing the same thing when my children were small, too. Good memories!

Dear Lord, help me see through these worldly or careworn things, as Cardinal Newman could. As I read this hymn, give me fresh understanding. Not only to lift praise to You as I read, but also to be able to feel with others as they go through their places of dark night, far from home. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayers.

“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.

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.”

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blog, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.

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