Lead Kindly Light, Amid the Enclircling Gloom…

“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.”
– Saint John Henry Newman

Lead Kindly Light by Saint John Henry Newman is a prayer that Mahatma Gandhi and many non-Christians revered. It is a prayer that offers comfort and hope in the midst of gloom, especially when darkness descends with unexpected and unforeseen urgency. 

Like the great African-American hymn ‘The Balm of Gilead’ with its beautiful opening stanza:

“Sometimes I feel discouraged,
and think my work’s in vain,
but then the Holy Spirit
revives my soul again”

John Henry Newman’s hymn invites us to remain faithful in our integrity and to face the darkness with the kindly light of faith and truth: 

“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.”

As a young priest, Newman (33) became sick while in Italy and was unable to travel for almost three weeks. In his own words:

“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.”

Newman faced much adversity in his life. In 1816 his father’s bank was shut down as a result of the financial collapse that followed the Napoleonic Wars. In 1821 nervousness and anxiety caused him to graduate with third-class honors. Then, in 1828, his sister suddenly passed away as his family continued to struggle financially.

Newman would overcome his challenges and eventually become an important religious leader in England attaining the rank of Cardinal. 

In the lead-up to All-Saints Day, we hope you will enjoy the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s beautiful rendition of this most beautiful of prayers.

Happy All-Saints Day with one of the newest in the Catholic Church:

 

Lead, Kindly Light
—————————————
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.

I was not ever thus, nor prayed 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 power 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 morn those angel faces smile,
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile!