…the parched land shall become a pool, and the thirsty lands springs of water…(Isaiah 35:7)

Lead Thou Me On

Reflections on a Beloved Hymn

By Eric Chaffey


There is a great truth in the phrase, God moves in a mysterious way, his wonders to perform. Sometimes the inspiration and message can come from a most unlikely source. Yes, even Facebook. 

A couple of weeks ago I was having a really rough weekend with panic attacks coming from out of nowhere and hitting me at a most inopportune time. This was a really strong one which left me feeling like I might actually faint. I have no idea what I was so scared of or what traumatic past experience that came out of  but there it was, bigger than life. Mercifully with the help of some prayer and deep breathing, it subsided. Sunday I still felt some of the after effects but not too bad. By the time Sunday evening rolled around it almost seemed back to normal.

After I returned home from church I decided to check on my Facebook page and see what people were up to. A friend that I’ve known since high school often writes some very funny stuff about her family life. This particular Sunday however, what she posted was a video of her  three year old daughter attempting to sing along in Sacrament meeting. It was in and of itself kind of cute, but it was that background that really caught my attention. The congregation was singing the final verse of “Lead Kindly Light” which has always been a favorite hymn of mine. But those words seemed to literally leap off the computer and were the answer to a prayer that I couldn’t give physical voice to.

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!

Out of everything I heard that Sunday which was meaningful and sacred, it was among other things those words that really struck me with an incredible force. His love and power has indeed blessed me and lead me to where I am today. I have no idea why my friend posted that video that day, but I am convinced the Spirit whispered peace to my troubled soul. There is a lot of uncertainty in life, but I have found that if I look to the One whose light shines in the darkness he will guide me and send beloved friends to help.

Reading the story of how this hymn came to be written, I could in some ways identify with John Henry Newman. He was a Catholic priest working abroad in Italy when he fell ill. He felt an intense calling pulling him back toward England and was having difficulty getting there. He was able to get passage to the island of Cicely but had to stay three weeks until he could catch another boat to Versailles. Walking around Cicely he spirit was calmed somewhat by walking into the various churches. But the longing and drive didn’t leave him. Finally, The time came for the boat to leave. Midway between Cicely and France the boat he was sailing on was becalmed for a whole week (no wind). It was during that time he wrote the words:

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.

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!

As I sit here and contemplate this hymn and my experience with it. I am reminded of a bit of home sickness. A longing for that Heavenly home, where love ones await us. Until that day comes we have to follow that Light which will eventually lead us home. As much as sometimes I feel the darkness surrounding me, I know that his Light is there leading me along as I give heed to where it leads.

3 people like this post.

3 Responses to “Lead Thou Me On”

  1. Rex Goode said:


    Wonderful! I love that hymn too. Thank you for telling its background. You add so much here!


  2. Springs Of Water » One Step Enough For Me said:

    […] Lead Thou Me On If you found this article through another site, like facebook, or by following an email link, […]

  3. Ross Burton said:

    Thank you Eric,
    I don’t know that I’ve ever heard the hymn but it rings true. I want to know the end of things before I will trust and take the first step. I’m willing to bet one of the reasons God can’t show us the whole path is that sometimes the intended path changes based on choices we, or someone else, make(s).

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