Let The Lower Lights Be Burning


Brightly Beams Our Fathers Mercy

Lyrics and Music By Philip Bliss


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 struggling, fainting seaman
You may rescue, you may save.
Dark the night of sin has settled,
Loud the angry billows roar;
Eager eyes are watching, longing,
For the lights along the shore.
Trim your feeble lamp, my brother;
Some poor sailor, tempest-tossed,
Trying now to make the harbor,
In the darkness may be lost.

History of The Song

Let The Lower Lights Be Burning 3The words to the old song were a direct result of a sermon given by Rev. Dwight L. Moody (1837-1899) who was one of the greatest evangelists of the nineteenth century. Moody told a story of a ship nearing the Lake Erie harbor at Cleveland, Ohio on a stormy night when the waves were high.

Seeing only the light from one lighthouse, the ship’s captain asked the pilot, “Are you sure this is Cleveland?” “Quite sure,” replied the pilot. “But,” said the captain, “Where are the lower lights, the lights along the shore?” The pilot replied calmly, “They’ve gone out sir.” He assured the captain that they could make the harbor and he turned the ship’s wheel. But in the darkness they missed the channel and crashed upon the bar, resulting in the deaths of many of the ship’s crew and passengers. With this illustration Moody concluded his sermon by saying, “The Master will take care of the Great Lighthouse, but it is up to us to keep the Lower Lights burning.”

Philip P. Bliss, one of the great hymn writers of all time, who had been directing the music at the service, listened intently to Moody’s sermon. Almost immediately after the service he penned the words and the music to a hymn that he titled Let the Lower Lights Be Burning. The hymn was first published in 1871 and eventually the song gained in popularity, even at inland churches where the people knew nothing about lighthouses. And it was soon known by millions of Americans.

Audio Variations

Note: I really like the the renditions that the band the Lower Lights does with Hymns. They have not played Let The Lower Lights Be Burning but would love to see how they would sing it.

Note: You just can’t beat Johnny Cash…that’s about all. Hope I get to see him in Heaven.

Paintings Representing This Song

Personal Notes:

I want to Fast Paint this scene in my chart using Chalk or Paint on 2 (36″ x 80″) Boards and make the lights on the shore glow at the end.

I see the music being done in the style of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir…leading to the last song being…”Let The Lower Lights Be Burning” – Performed in Latin by a boys choir accapella and then in English and ending with the Congregation singing…

It’s the “lower lights,” the little torches that guide the ships among the shoals. We are the lower lights–not always the lighthouse we think we must be.

How Do I lead up to the finale of the lights coming on and still getting across the point that we need to be that light in the world…


Painting Under White Lights:
Rough Seas, No Lower Lights, Ship is Sinking, being dashed against the rocks

Painting Under Black Lights:
Rough Seas, Lower Lights, Ship is Sailing into Harbor unharmed.


Artist Drawing Throughout Entire Service: (1 hour)

Pre-Service Music:



End Music:


How has this song affected you?