The hymn, “Lead, Kindly Light,” was first a poem written by John Henry Newman entitled “The Pillar of Cloud.” The inspiration for the poem came while Newman was away from home and severely ill. The prayerful words that he penned have spoken to generations of believers, and they still resonate today. The prayer in this poem asks God, our Kindly Light, to show us not the distant scene, but simply the next step. We may wish to know the future, especially in these times of uncertainty around this pandemic, but we are reminded that the next step is enough when we trust God to lead us. The well-known closing prayer that I share here offers a similar reminder – that we, having been called to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, cling to our faith that God’s hand is holding us and God’s love supporting us. This post is another in my series of Poems, Prayers, Psalms, and Promises, and one that I am currently using for my evening devotion.
To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. In you, O God, I place my trust. Help me now to quiet myself and listen, that the thoughts and prayers of my heart might be pleasing to you. Amen.
Psalm 91:1-4, 9-12
You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence; he will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. Because you have made the Lord your refuge, the Most High your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you, no scourge come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.
The Lord went in front of them in a pillar of cloud by day, to lead them along the way, and in a pillar of fire by night, to give them light, so that they might travel by day and by night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people. – Exodus 13:21-22
There will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. – Revelation 22:5
Devotional Poem – “Lead, Kindly Light” by John Henry Newman
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! 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.
Closing Prayer – The Prayer of Good Courage
O God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen