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"LET THE LOWER LIGHTS BE BURNING!”
An illustration, recited in Mr. Moody's graphic fashion in one of his discourses, suggested this hymn to P. P. Bliss.
“A stormy night on Lake Erie, and the sky pitch dark.”
Pilot, are you sure this is Cleveland ? There's only one light.'
Quite sure, Cap’n.' 'Where are the lower lights ?' ‘Gone out, sir.' 'Can you run in ?'
We've got to, Cap'n-or die.' “The brave old pilot did his best, but, alas, he missed the channel. The boat was wrecked, with a loss of many lives. The lower lights had gone out.
“Brethren, the Master will take care of the great Lighthouse. It is our work to keep the lower lights burning!"
Brightly beams our Father's mercy
From His lighthouse evermore;
Send a gleam across the wave;
You may rescue, you may save. Both words and music-composed in 1871– are by Mr. Bliss. There are wakening chords in
the tune—and especially the chorus—when the counterpoint is well vocalized; and the effect is more pronounced the greater the symphony of voices. Congregations find a zest in every note. “Hold the Fort" can be sung in the street. “Let the Lower Lights be Burning" is at home between echoing walls.
The use of the song in “Bethel” meetings classes it with sailors' hymns.
“SWEET HOUR OF PRAYER."
Included with the Gospel Hymns, but of older date. Rev. William W. Walford, a blind English minister, was the author, and it was probably written about the year 1842. It was recited to
Thomas Salmon, Congregational pastor at Coleshill, Eng., who took it down and brought it to New York, where it was published in the New York Observer.
Little is known of Mr. Walford save that in his blindness, besides preaching occasionally, he employed his mechanical skill in making small useful articles of bone and ivory.
The tune was composed by W. B. Bradbury in 1859, and first appeared with the hymn in Cottage Melodies.
Sweet hour of prayer, sweet hour of prayer
In seasons of distress and grief
"O BLISS OF THE PURIFIED! BLISS OF THE FREE!”
Rev. Francis Bottome, D.D., born in Belper, Derbyshire, Eng., May 26, 1823, removed to the United States in 1850, and entered the Methodist ministry. A man of sterling character and exemplary piety. He received the degree of Doctor of Divinity at Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pa. Was assistant compiler of several singing books, and wrote original hymns. The above, entitled “O sing of His mighty love”was composed by him in 1869. The last stanza reads,
O Jesus the Crucified! Thee will I sing,
Mighty to save!
Dr. Bottome returned to England, and died at Tavistock June 29, 1894.
Bradbury's “Songs of the Beautiful” (in Fresh Laurels). The hymn was set to this chorus in 1871. “WHAT SHALL THE HARVEST BE?"
Very popular in England. Mr. Sankey in his Story of the Gospel Hymns relates at length the experience of Rev. W. O. Lattimore, pastor of a large church in Evanston, Ill., who was saved to Christian manhood and usefulness by this hymn. It has suffered some alterations, but its original composition was Mrs. Emily Oakey's work. The Parables of the Sower and of the Tares may have been in her mind when she wrote the lines in 1850, but more probably it was the text in Gal. 6:7–
Sowing the seed by the daylight fair,
O, what shall the harvest be? Lattimore, the man whose history was so strangely linked with this hymn, entered the army in 1861, a youth of eighteen with no vices, but when promoted to first lieutenant he learned to drink in the officers' mess. The habit so contracted grew upon him till when the war was over, though he married and tried to lead a sober life, he fell a victim to his appetite, and became a physical wreck. One day in the winter of 1876 he found himself in a halfdrunken condition, in the gallery of Moody's Taber. nacle, Chicago. Discovering presently that he had made a mistake, he rose to go out, but Mr. Sankey's voice chained him. He sat down and heard the whole of the thrilling hymn from beginning to end.