Let The Lower Lights Be Burning

Phillip Bliss 1871


I learned this from Kendall Morse in the 1960s – it was popular along this coast a generation before mine.  We've heard three different stories of how this song came to be, all involving a ship disaster on the Great Lakes.  Phillip Bliss was a well-known evangelist who heard one of these stories and wrote the song.


The January Men and Then Some


Brightly beams out father's mercy

From the Lighthouse evermore

But to us he gives the keeping

Of the lights along the shore


            Let the lower lights be burning

            Send their gleam across the wave   

            Some poor fainting, struggling seaman

            You man 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 reach the harbor

In the darkness may be lost




Let the Lower Lights Be Burning is recorded on the album In Concert